Three persons, including a VHP activist, have been arrested in Karnataka’s Kodagu district in connection with a Muslim youth’s murder in the aftermath of communal clash over Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary celebrations.
Shahul Hameed (27) was killed on November 10 near Madikeri town, allegedly in retaliation to the death of 67-year-old VHP activist D S Kutappa during the communal clash. A probe into Kutappa’s death had established that a fall, while he was trying to escape stone-pelting, killed him.
IG (southern range) B K Singh said Kaveriappa (31) of Haleri, S H Bheeshma (36) of Dechur and K R Ramesh (45) of Madikeri were arrested in Tuesday.
“Police investigations have revealed that the accused allegedly killed Hameed as an act of retaliation over the death of Kutappa. We have seized a car and .22 rifle owned by Bheeshma, which was used to commit the crime. The accused were produced before a court on Wednesday and were remanded in judicial custody,” Singh said, adding that the trio had confessed to the crime.
Hameed was hit by a bullet near Neerkolli village, around six km from Madikeri, when he was returning to his Siddapura home in an open truck after the clash at Madikeri. Hameed died the next day and a murder case was lodged based on a complaint by his relative. Probe revealed that the bullet that killed him was fired a privately-owned .22 calibre firearm. With gun ownership being common in Kodagu, police used the details of weapon and gun signature on the bullet to narrow down on the suspects.
Madikeri police said Kaveriappa was an active VHP worker and after learning that people who participated in Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary celebrations would return via Neerkolli, he reportedly asked his friends Bheeshma and Ramesh to bring a rifle to a hillock.
Police added that Kaveriappa allegedly fired three rounds at the trucks. “The first bullet hit the ground, the second hit the bonnet of a jeep and the third pierced Hameed’s head,” a police officer said.
Investigation has revealed that the rifle used was bought by Bheeshma for Rs 70,000 in April, said police.
The deaths of Kutappa and Hameed occurred after the Congress government in Karnataka decided to officially celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary. The decision triggered an uproar with right-wing groups staging protests, claiming that Tipu was “a religious bigot’’.
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