Two persons have been arrested on Saturday for their alleged connection with the murder of a businessman in Ankola, Uttara Kannada, recently. With the arrest, the police believe they have busted a racket of violent extortionists.
Announcing the arrest at a press conference in Udupi on Sunday, Inspector General of Police (Western Range) C.H. Pratap Reddy said Ganesh alias Manjunath alias Laxman Bhajantri (29), a resident of Eidu village, Karkala, and Abhi alias Ambaji (35), a resident of M.S. Ramaiya Nagar in Bangalore, were picked up from Hebri, Udupi district, on Saturday.
In the afternoon of December 21, Ramachandra Narayana Naik (58), president of Dwarka Souharda Credit Cooperative Ltd. and a realtor, was shot at by Vivek Kumar Upadhyaya (27) – a native of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh – at a busy intersection at Ankola.
R.L. Gowda, a District Armed Reserve constable posted for Mr. Nayak’s protection after he had complained of repeated extortion calls, shot back at the assailant. In the ensuing shootout, both the businessman and the assailant died.
In the melee that followed, four persons were seen “suspiciously” trying to escape from the place. The public caught hold of Satish Patel (21) from Varanasi.
Through interrogation, technical and scientific inputs, Laxman and Ambaji were arrested, said the IGP. While Laxman has three cases registered against him in police stations in Dakshina Kannada, Ambaji has four cases filed against him in police stations in Bangalore and Mysore. Vivek had two cases against him at Mysore, while Satish Patel has a case against him at Ankola Police station, said the police.
‘Plot hatched in Mysore jail’
Explaining the modus operandi of the operation, Mr. Reddy said the planning happened in May and June last year in Mysore Jail, where the accused were lodged in connection with numerous cases. On the release of Vivek Kumar in June, the police said, he received money from “unknown persons” to purchase four pistols and 45 rounds of ammunition from Uttar Pradesh. The police said he brought the pistols and rounds to Bangalore.
The police suspect Bannanje Raja, who is reportedly on the run, as the mastermind behind the extortion operation. The other wanted in this case are Achchingi Mahesh, Santosh alias Suliya Santhu, accused of being a part of the conspiracy. “The accused were also in the process of planning three more similar operations in Kerala and Karnataka,” said the IGP, who said the search was on to arrest the others involved.