Poaching of staff, customers led to double murder in Bengaluru tech firm; police arrest rival-firm MD

Arun Kumar, the managing director of G-Net, went to Delhi to create an alibi when the gang of three murdered Subramanya and Vinay on Tuesday.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Jul 14, 2023 | 6:18 PMUpdatedJul 14, 2023 | 6:19 PM

Accused Vinay Reddy, Santhosh, and Joker Felix

A business rivalry led to the twin murder at a tech firm in Bengaluru, the police said after arresting Arun Kumar, allegedly the main conspirator, from his hideout in Anekal in the Bengaluru Urban district of Karnataka on Thursday, 13 July.

The police said Arun, the owner and managing director of a rival firm, went to Delhi to create an alibi when three men — Shabarish alias Joker Felix (27) and his two associates Vinay Reddy (23) and Santhosh alias Santhu (26) — hacked to death Phanindra Subramanya and Vinay Kumar, the managing director and chief executive officer, respectively, of internet service provider Aeronics Media Private Limited, in their office at Pampa Extension in Amruthahalli on Tuesday, 11 July.

With Arun’s arrest, the police have caught all four accused in the murder case.

“We have arrested Arun Kumar in connection with the double murder at Amrutahalli… He played a major role in the conspiracy,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Bengaluru North-East division BM Laxmi Prasad said on Friday.

Murder of CEO, MD: Police arrest 3 men, including ex-employee, in 6 hours

Vinay was not a target

Arun Kumar, who was arrested from Anekal. (Supplied)

Arun Kumar, who was arrested from Anekal. (Supplied)

The police said Subramanya was the gang’s primary target.

When Vinay intervened on hearing the commotion, they attacked him with sharp weapons.

After attacking them, the trio went into hiding in the Kunigal taluk of the Tumakuru district.

Meanwhile, the injured men died while their colleagues were taking them to a hospital.

The bodies were subsequently shifted to Manipal Hospital for post-mortem examinations.

The police initially picked up Felix and his two associates, Vinay Reddy and Santhosh, who were directly involved in the murder.

Investigators learnt that Felix had shared the news of the double murder reported by a Kannada television channel on his Instagram handle, and also called up Arun to inform him about their actions.

Related: Ex-employee hacks to death CEO and MD of Bengaluru-based ISP

The motive in detail

The twin murder was the result of a competitive rivalry gone sour.

Subramanya, Vinay, a senior woman employee, and around 10-12 of their colleagues were earlier working with Arun’s firm, G-Net — also an internet service provider.

The police said Subramanya and the woman were upset over Arun taking credit for their work.

They quit G-Net in November 2022 and founded Aeronics. Soon, Vinay joined Subramanya in a senior position.

Aeronics made attractive offers, including cloud computing and other services, for ₹699, ₹100 less than G-Net’s offer.

Meanwhile, several G-Net employees joined the new firm. A significant number of customers, too, migrated to Aeronics, the police said.

It has been alleged that Aeronics also managed to get G-Net’s customer database.

The developments and the growth of Aeronics reportedly angered Arun he hatched a plan.

A senior police officer attached to the Amruthahalli police station told South First that Felix, a social media influencer, was a “pet” of Arun. Additionally, he had worked for Arun earlier.

Also known as Freeman Felix, who “roasted” others, he donned several hats — Dating coach, a rapper of Kannada songs — and had thousands of followers. He became popular after getting married in a graveyard, the police said.

Before committing the crime, he posted a cryptic message on Instagram. His last status read: “I never hurt any good people.”

The police said Arun shared the news of his firm’s downslide with Felix around four-five times.

It was then he decided to kill Subramanya with the help of his associates, Vinay, who worked at a showroom’s car washing section, and Santhosh, an unemployed youth.

The Amruthahalli police were questioning the accused to ascertain if any other issue had led to the murders.

“The extent of G-Net’s losses due to the poaching of employees and their customer database by Aeronics has to be ascertained,” a senior police officer told South First.