Former Congress Zilla Panchayat president hacked to death by relative in Karnataka; cops rule out political motive

Srinivas and prime accused Venugopal had a long-standing enmity and the murder plan was hatched due to this, say cops.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Oct 24, 2023 | 11:52 PMUpdatedOct 25, 2023 | 12:22 AM

Congress worker hacked to death

Within three hours of the murder of a Congress party worker and a former Kolar Zilla Panchayat president — M Srinivas — on the night of Monday, 23 October, the Kolar district police arrested six people from Lakshmisagara under Vemgal police station limits in connection with the case.

The main accused is a relative of Srinivas and both of them were rivals within their community, according to the police, who ruled out any political motive behind the crime.

Srinivas was said to be a close aide of Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara.

In the early hours of Tuesday, the police had to open fire on three of the culprits, who had assaulted officers in their escape bid, after they were chased and eventually surrounded.

The arrested have been identified as Venugopal, a resident of Srinivasapura, and his associates Santhosh, a resident of Bangarpet, Muneendra of Kolar town, Nagendra of Mulubagal, and Arshith Kumar and Arun Kumar both from Vemgal.

They were traced to Lakshmisagara and were arrested. The police opened fire at Venugopal, Santhosh and Muneendra, who assaulted the police in a bid to escape, a senior police officer told South First.

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The popular Councillor Srinivas

Srinivas was popular in Srinivaspura and was referred to as Councillor Srinivas. He, and Venugopal, had emerged as rivals over the past four years, the police said.

Central Range Inspector General of Police (IGP) BR Ravikanthe Gowda told South First, “Srinivas and the prime accused had been nurturing a rivalry between them over the past four years and they were also relatives belonging to the same caste and community.”

According to the police, the murder was carried out around 11.30 pm on Monday, when Srinivas had gone to a site where he was constructing a commercial building (a bar and restaurant) on Mulubagal road.

Six armed men, who had arrived on two motorcycles, stopped by the site and they used pepper spray on Srinivas before attacking him with sharp-edged weapons.

Srinivas received grievous injuries to his chest and head and was rushed to RL Jalappa Hospital in Kolar, where the doctors declared him dead on arrival, the police said.

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Close aide of home minister

Police sources told South First that Srinivas, apart from being an aide to Parameshwara, was also close to Congress leader and former Speaker Ramesh Kumar.

Soon after the news of Srinivas’ death, Parameshwara and Ramesh Kumar rushed to the hospital along with Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Law and Order Hitendra and consoled the grieving family members.

Kolar Superintendent of Police (SP) M Narayan told reporters that there was no political motive behind the murder.

Narayan said that both Srinivas and Venugopal had nurtured enmity between them over a long period of time, which escalated and led to this fatal incident.

According to police sources, Venugopal’s wife is a relative of Srinivas, who was engaged in groupism and wanted to dominate and be a leader in his community sidelining Venugopal.

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Community rivalry

Moreover Venugopal, who was loyal to the Congress party, had his own differences with Srinivas, who was with the Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS) party earlier and had recently joined the Congress.

“The two groups were always at loggerheads and used to stare at each other. There were a lot of cases and counter cases filed against both the parties at the local police station,” a senior police officer told South First.

Venugopal and his associates decided to bring an end to this face-off and conspired to eliminate Srinivas while he was visiting a construction site on Mulubagal road on Monday night around 11.30 pm.

After attacking Srinivas, the six accused casually left the spot, the police said quoting a witness, a relative of Srinivas, who was also attacked by the assailants but managed to escape..

Three police teams

The Kolar district police formed three teams immediately and were  in pursuit of the six accused who were traced to Lakshmisagara in the early hours of Tuesday — the information they had received was that the six were moving from Lakshmisagara to Kolar Gold Fields (KGF).

When the police reached the spot and surrounded the accused — the prime accused, Venugopal, and his associates Santhosh and Muneendra, assaulted the policemen in a bid to escape.

Police Inspector Venkatesh, the Station House Officer of the Vemgal police station, fired in the air to warn them to drop their weapons and surrender to the police, but when the accused parties continued to attack the police, he fired at them aiming for their legs and immobilised the trio.

Muneendra, who was more aggressive than the others, sustained two-gun shots to his two legs, police sources added. All the six accused were arrested within three hours of the murder and the case was solved, a senior police officer said.

Meanwhile, after post-mortem, Srinivas’s body was handed over to his family members, who performed the last rites amid tight police security.