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VHP in Karnataka Claims Fazil Murder Case Accused ‘Frequented' Its Programmes

Local history-sheeter Suhas Shetty used to attend VHP events, the outfit claimed.

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Edited By :Karan Mahadik

Suhas Shetty, the key accused in the Mohammed Fazil murder case in Karnataka, was a frequent visitor to events organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal, VHP leaders confirmed.

Fazil, a 23-year-old Muslim youth, was hacked to death at Surathkal, two days after Praveen Nettaru, a BJP Yuva Morcha leader, was killed at Bellare. Mangaluru Police arrested six persons, including Shetty, in connection with the murder on 2 August.

While the police have refused to reveal the political affiliation of the accused, VHP’s Mangaluru secretary Sharan Pumpwell told The Quint, “Suhas Shetty used to come for programmes organised by the VHP. But several Hindu youth come for programmes organised by VHP and Bajrang Dal.” Shetty was not a member of the outfit, he claimed.

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Suhas Shetty’s Criminal Record

Pumpwell further said that the VHP “had not asked him to commit the murder.” According to Pumpwell, the murder, however, could have been retaliatory in nature. “After Praveen got killed, a lot of Hindu youth were angry. The murder of this person (Fazil) could have been a retaliatory attack. That is possible,” Pumpwell said unabashedly.

Mangaluru Police have said that Shetty was accused in four cases, including a murder case.

Shetty was accused in a murder case in Bajpe, his home town. This could be the most prominent criminal record that he has had, those in the know said. “He is not from a big gang. But he is the leader of a criminal gang which had allegedly attacked and killed one person,” a local resident of Mangaluru said. Shetty was arrested in connection with the Bajpe case in May 2020. He was, however, released on bail in 2021.

“We did not know anything about this person’s background. We have not checked,” Pumpwell said, brushing off the accused’s criminal record.

According to Mangaluru Police, which has not revealed the motive behind the crime, Shetty and other accused persons conspired to “kill someone” after Praveen Nettaru’s murder. They made a list, the police have said, while refusing to reveal the names of people who were on the hit list.

Pumwell, meanwhile, said that the other accused in the case too could have attended VHP events. “It is possible that they attended the events,” he said. The other accused in the case include Mohan (26), Giridhar (23), Abhishek (21), Srinivas (23), and Deekshith (21). Another accused, Ajith Crasta, was arrested on 1 August for renting his car to Fazil’s assailants.

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Police Refuse To Confirm Political Affiliation in 3 Murders

When The Quint reached out a senior police officer, who is in the know, he said, “A lot of people will be happy to hear that the accused in all the three cases have political affiliation. In Praveen’s case, we are struggling to make the arrest of the culprits. At this point, we cannot say if the accused were affiliated to Popular Front of India.”

When The Quint asked whether Suhas Shetty and the other accused were associated with VHP or Bajrang Dal, the same officer said, “At this stage in the investigation, we cannot confirm this.”

Ironically, the officer said that the investigation cannot call these “communal murders,” despite the VHP’s claim that the accused in Fazil’s case used to attend the outfit’s programmes, because “there is no conclusive evidence that these were communal murders.”

In the Dakshina Kannada district, the first murder that kicked off the recent spate of killings was that of 19-year-old Mohammed Masood. “In Masood’s murder, the interrogation of the accused has not revealed that the altercation was communal in nature. However, we cannot rule out any possibility. The chargesheet will reveal all the details,” the officer said. So far, in Praveen Nettaru’s murder – Zakir, Shafiq, Sadam, and Haris have been arrested. “We have not come to any conclusion in the case,” the officer said.

In all three cases, the motive of the crimes committed have not yet to been revealed by the police. “This will all be part of the charge sheet. We cannot reveal sensitive information beforehand,” the officer said.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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