Fazil murdered to avenge BJP leader’s killing: Cops
Police said that the statements of the accused are being recorded separately to corroborate the sequence of the events provided by them during the initial investigation.
The probe into the murder of Mohammad Fazil Mangalpet has revealed that the attack was in retaliation to the killing of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Praveen Nettaru, a Mangaluru police said on Wednesday, who did not wish to be named.
The 23-year-old, temporary cleaner at HPCL Bullet tanker, was murdered in Surathkal municipality of Dakshina Kannada district on July 28.
Based on a tipoff, the police arrested six people on Monday in connection with the murder from the outskirts of Mangaluru. Police said the six, Suhas Shetty, 29, Mohan Singh, 26, Giridhar, 23, Abhishek, 21, Shrinivas, 23, and Deekshith, 21, have been involved in several crimes in the past. Police probe revealed Suhas Shetty to be the prime accused in the case.
Police said that the statements of the accused are being recorded separately to corroborate the sequence of the events provided by them during the initial investigation. The police said that the intention was to take revenge for the BJP worker’s murder.
“Except for the one person in the group others didn’t know who Fazil was,” said a senior officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “They also had alternate targets. The aim was to send a message. We will specify this in the charge sheet,” the officer citied above added.
When asked if more arrests will take place, the officer said that police are still investigating the who the accused met after the attack. “In terms of the attack and conspiracy, we have arrested those who are part of the case. Even if there are other arrests, they will be of those who have provided logical support,” he said.
Accused Suhas Shetty is former member of the Goraksha unit of the Bajrang Dal, according to police. In 2020, he was expelled after being accused of murder. The 2020 case pertains to the murder of a 20-year-old youth in Bajpe in Mangaluru. According to the police, on May 31, at 7:45 pm Shetty and six others started a fight with Nithin Poojary, Manish Jogi and Keerthi. Shetty assaulted them with iron roads and stabbed all three. In the assault, Keerthi was severely injured and rushed to the hospital, but died on the way. Other five individuals have connections with Hindutva organisations and police are gathering information about them, said the official.
However, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) Mangaluru secretary Sharan Pumpwell said Shetty was not part of the organisation at any point. When asked about the photographs of Suhas Shetty taking part in Bajrang Dal events, Pumpwell said he used to attend some programmes organised by the VHP. “Several Hindu youth come for programmes organised by VHP and Bajrang Dal, but that doesn’t mean they are part of the organisation,” he said.
Following the arrest of the six men Mangaluru police commissioner, N Shashi Kumar said the six people came together with the aim of “killing someone” at the earliest and planned Fazil’s murder for three days.
“The six people did not know each other, but they came to know each through common friends. Suhas Shetty called his friend Abhishek and had a long discussion with him. They decided to gather more people and weapons,” said Kumar.
He said Suhas Shetty met Abhishek on July 26 (the day BJP Yuva Morcha activist Praveen Nettaru was murdered) and shared his plan to murder someone. On July 27, Shetty met Giridhar at a hotel in Surathkal, where he shared the plan with him and said that he needed weapons, vehicles and manpower. Giridhar called Mohan who agreed to arrange for a car. “On July 27, Mohan got a car from Ajith Crasta who was assured of ₹15,000 in three days if their plan was successful,” said the commissioner.
They did not proceed with the task on July 27 as three of the accused did not turn up for the meeting.
“ On July 28, Suhas left early in the morning with weapons to Bantwal’s Karinjeshwar temple, while three other accused had to appear in court. They had a discussion near the court where Fazil’s name was finalised as the target…” Kumar said.
In the evening, all six left in the car. They made three rounds of the garment shop where Fazil was. Shetty got out of the vehicle along with Mohan and Abhishek and hacked Fazil to death. “ Suhas, Mohan and Abhishek were the assailants, Giridhar was driving the car, Deekshith was seated in the car, while Srinivas tried to protect the accused from the public during the murder. The six accused then escaped towards Palimar. They abandoned the car and escaped in another car to a hideout,” the commissioner said.