Praveen Nettaru’s murder was a part of the agenda to create terror, communal hatred, and unrest in society, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said.
NIA, in its charge sheet for the BJP worker’s murder, has alleged that it was perpetrated by the recently-banned Popular Front of India (PFI) to “further its agenda of establishing Islamic Rule by 2047”.
NIA on Friday, 20 January, filed charge-sheet against 20 accused persons, at the NIA Special Court, Bengaluru, in connection with the murder of Praveen Nettaru, a BJP Yuva Morcha member — by cadres or members of PFI on 26 July 2022, in Bellare village of Sullia Taluk in Dakshina Kannada district.
‘Secret killer teams’
NIA has claimed that PFI formed secret teams called “Service Teams” or “Killer Squads” to carry out killings of its “perceived enemies” and targets.
“These Service Team members were given training in arms, attack as well as surveillance techniques in order to identify, list out and to mount surveillance on individuals/leaders belonging to certain communities and groups,” the NIA said.
“These Service Team members were further trained to assault/kill identified targets, on the instructions of senior PFI leaders. In furtherance of conspiracy meetings by PFI members and leaders held at Bengaluru city, Sullia Town and Bellare village, the head of District Service Team Mustafa Paichar was instructed to recce, identify and target a prominent member of a particular community,” the NIA charge sheet said.
“As per instructions, four persons were recced and identified and among them Praveen Nettaru, who was BJP Yuva Morcha, District Committee Member, was assaulted and killed on 26 July, 2022, in full public view with lethal weapons to create a terror among the people at large and especially among members of a particular community,” the NIA charge sheet said.
The case was initially registered on 27 July, 2022, at Bellare Police Station of Dakshina Kannada district and was re-registered by the NIA on 4 August, 2022.
Accused and sections
All the accused persons have been charge sheeted under sections 120B, 153A, 302 and 34 of IPC and sections 16, 18 and 20 of the UA (P) Act, 1967, and Section 25(1)(a) of the Arms Act.
The accused are Mahammed Shiyab, resident of Sullia Town in Dakshina Kannada (DK) district, Abdul Basheer (29) resident of Yettinahole, Elimale, Sullia Taluk in DK district, Riyaz Angatadakar (28) resident of Palthadi, DK district, Mustafa Paichar alias Mohammed Musthafa (43) resident of Sullia Taluk, DK district, Masud K A (40) resident of Nekkiladi, DK district, Kodaje Mohammed Sherif (53) resident of Bantwal, DK district, Abubakkar Siddik (38) resident of Sullia Taluk, DK district, Noufal M (38) resident of Sullia taluk, DK district, Ismail Shafi K, resident of Sullia Taluk, DK district, K Mahammad Iqbal, resident of Sullia Taluk, DK district, Shaheed M (38) resident of Mangalanthi, DK district, Mahammad Shafeek G (28) resident of Sullia Taluk, Post Bellare, DK district, Ummar Farook M R (22) resident of Sullia, DK district, Abdul Kabeer C A (33) resident of Sullia, DK district, Muhammad Ibrahim Sha (23) resident of Sullia taluk, DK district, Sainul Abid Y (23) resident of Sullia Taluk, DK district, Sheikh Saddam Hussain (28) resident of Sullia Taluk in DK district, Zakiar A (30) resident of Puttur Taluk in Savanur, DK district, N Abdul Haris (40) resident of Sullia Taluk in DK district, and Thufail M H, resident of Madikeri, Kodagu district.
Among the charge sheeted accused, Mustafa Paichar, Masud KA, Kodaje Mohammed Sherif, Abubakkar Siddik, Ummar Farook MR, and Thufail M H are currently absconding and rewards have been announced for information leading to their arrest.
Further investigations in the case are in progress.
Praveen Nettaru (32), a zilla BJP Yuva Morcha committee member was hacked to death by unidentified bike-borne assailants on the night of 26 July, 2022, in Bellare in DK district.
He was fatally attacked on his way home while returning from his poultry shop, according to the police. He attempted to flee after being attacked, but fell after being struck on his head.
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Law and Order, Alok Kumar, who supervised the investigation, announced the arrest of Mohammed Shiyabuddin, Riyaz Angatadakar and one Basheer the following day.
The Bellare police learnt that one of the accused person’s father used to work for Nettaru at his chicken shop. As he knew Praveen well, he had allegedly helped with the recce for identifying the target, ADGP Alok Kumar had told reporters.
It was also learnt that after the murder, the accused took shelter at a masjid in Kerala’s Kasaragod district.
Protests over murder
Nettaru’s murder triggered massive protests by right-wing organisations and its workers against the BJP-ruled government in Karnataka, led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
The BJP government, in September last year, offered a contract government job to Nettaru’s wife Nutana Kumari.
The job was that of a senior assistant at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat with a remuneration of ₹30,350 per month, the government order stated.
This move by Chief Minister Bommai came against the backdrop of progressive thinkers who criticised his government for turning a blind eye towards two victims belonging to the Muslim community who were also murdered.
The ruling BJP party had also committed to construct a house at a cost of approximately ₹60 lakh for Nettaru’s family.
BJP state president and Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, and other BJP leaders particpated in a bhumi puja held for construction of a new house of 2,700 square feet, with the plan prepared by Nettaru’s family at Bellare in Sullia.