Six members of the JD(S) in Karnataka, including a close associate of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, are among those killed in the bomb blasts in Sri Lanka Sunday, party leaders and family members said. A seventh party member, H Puttaraju, is reported missing, they said.
The seven had travelled together to Colombo and were staying in the Shangri-la Hotel, which was targetted in the blasts, family members said. The six killed have been identified as Lakshmana Gowda Ramesh, K M Lakshminarayan, M Rangappa, K G Hanumantharayappa, H Shivakumar and A Maregowda.
Hanumantharayappa, a 50-year-old real estate businessman who ran a firm called Mathrushree Developers, is said to have been close to Kumaraswamy. He was also an office-bearer of the association of Vokkaligas, the dominant community in south Karnataka from which the JD(S) draws support for elections.
According to officials, the seven JD(S) members hailed from the Nelamangala (Bangalore Rural district) and Tumkur regions. They were all associates of JD(S) leader and former legislator E Krishnappa.
Puttaraju’s brother B Rudresh said the seven “went to Sri Lanka to relax” after helping the party in its Lok Sabha campaign in the first phase of elections held on April 18. “Puttaraju is missing. We are still hoping for him to be alive,”’ Rudresh said.
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Family members said the group often travelled abroad together and that three of them — Maregowda, Hanumantharayappa and Puttaraju — had travelled to Vietnam in January. All the men are married and have families. Puttaraju, a 35-year-old businessman, is a former gram panchayat member in the Makali region near Bengaluru.
“They are not just my followers and party workers, some of them are my cousins and relatives,’’ Krishnappa said. On Monday morning, the JD(S) leader approached Karnataka DGP Neelamani Raju’s office for assistance in bringing the bodies back to Bengaluru. Later, he flew to Sri Lanka with family members of the victims.
Among the others killed are: Ramesh, 45, who owned a liquor sales outlets in the Bangalore Rural region; Lakshminarayana, 54, a former gram panchayat member; Rangappa, 52, a real estate businessman; Maregowda, 43, a businessman from Bengaluru with two children; and, Shivakumar, 50, a businessman from Bengaluru whose daughter is married and lives in the US.
The deaths have taken the toll of Indians killed in the blasts to eight. Kerala-born and Dubai-settled P S Raseena, who was also killed in the blasts, has since been identified as an Indian-origin woman and not a national.