The suspect in the murder of an RTI activist in Mangalore in 21 March is a former convenor of the NaMo Brigade, a youth organisation that was floated floated in Karnataka to drum up support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
According to an Indian Express report, police have launched a search to find 39-year-old Naresh Shenoy, one of the founders of the NaMo Brigade who is closely associated with the RSS in Karnataka.
The investigations have revealed his and three other associates’ involvements in the murder of Vinayak Pandurang Baliga, 51, barely 75 metres from his home.
This comes after Mangaluru Police vowed to hunt the killers of Vinayak Baliga, who was hacked to death by unknown people on 21 March.
51-year-old Baliga was brutally murdered while on his way to the temple.
Manguluru Police Commissioner, M Chandrashekhar, had told news agency ANI, “On 21st March at 5:30AM in the morning ,Vinayak Baliga left his house to go to temple, when he was attacked by sharp edged weapon. Assailants were waiting for him outside his house. He died on his way to hospital.
A search was conducted at Shenoy’s residence in Mangalore on Thursday as part of the murder probe. Police said he has been missing for over a week and his cell phone is switched off.
Mangalore police had arrested two people — Nishith Devadiga, 23, and Vinith Poojary, 26- soon after the arrests. Further investigations confirmed their role in the murder, allegedly contracted through a chain of operators, including close associates employed by Shenoy, Indian Express quoted police sources.
According to report, two persons arrested so far were contracted for a small sum by a person identified as Shivu, who in turn was allegedly contacted by Shenoy’s associate Shrikanth.
The police on Thursday issued public notices declaring Shivu and Shrikanth as prime suspects in Baliga’s murder. Shrikanth, a former activist of a Hindutva group in Mangalore, was employed by Shenoy to manage operations of a few hostels that he ran in the city.
Investigations also found that another worker employed by Shenoy, identified as Vignesh, was at the scene of the crime with a getaway car, a Qualis, to help the contract killers flee the spot. Police sources said a search is on to find Vignesh and the car.
Baliga, also a BJP worker, was involved in a battle with authorities at the local Venkataramana Temple, where he prayed every morning, over alleged misappropriation of temple funds to the tune of Rs 9 crore, which he discovered by investigating and filing RTI applications.
He had filed as many as 92 RTI applications over various issues, including land encroachment and illegal buildings in Mangalore. But police believe he was primarily targeted over the row surrounding Venkataramana Temple, which belongs to the Saraswat Goud Brahmin community. Police sources said Shenoy was also associated with the temple and was considered an ally of some authorities Baliga antagonised.