Mangaluru, 26 June, 2016: Mangaluru City Police Commissioner M. Chandra Shekar today confirmed the rumoured arrest of Naresh Shenoy (39), the prime accused in the sensational murder of RTI activist Vinayak Baliga. With his arrest on of the most suspenseful man hunts in the district came to an end.
Announcing this at a press meet held at the city police commissionerate at 4:00 p.m., Chandra Shekar said Naresh Shenoy was tracked down to a hideout near Hejamady. He was arrested this afternoon at 12.30 p.m. by Inspector Valentine D’souza of City Crime Branch (CCB).
He said that the accused would be produced in court on Monday and 15 days police custody would be sought for him. He would be handed over to the DCP Tilakchandra who is the investigating officer of the case, the commissioner said.
When questioned about the motive for the crime, Commissioner M. Chandra Shekar said everything would be disclosed after Naresh Shenoy is interrogated and the investigation is completed over the next 15 days.
He said Naresh Shenoy was the mastermind behind the crime. He had ordered Baliga’s murder and furnished funds to his associate Shrikanth for organizing the contract killing.
Shrikanth in turn had contacted Shiva who provided two killers, Vineeth Poojary and Nischith Devadiga, to do the job, he said. Preliminary enquiries have revealed that Naresh Shenoy has attempted to destroy evidence relating to the crime, the commissioner said. To a query about whether the motive is related to Venkatramana Temple or Kashi Math, he replied that there could be various possibilities, but the real motive can be ascertained only after the interrogation of Naresh Shenoy. He said that the investigation was being pursued from all angles. Nothing concrete can be disclosed about the motive at this point, he said.
It may be recalled that RTI activist Vinayak Baliga had been murdered by hired killers on 21st March this year. Baliga was hacked at about 5:45 a.m. close to his residence in the lane adjacent to Sterling Chambers near Kala Kunj in the city. The case had generated much public interest as the investigation which was personally led by Commissioner M. Chandra Shekar had revealed the hand of Naresh Shenoy in the crime. Naresh Shenoy is a popular right wing youth leader and founder of Namo Brigade which had orchestrated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election campaign in 2014. He runs an Ayurvedic medicine distribution firm called Vivek Traders at V. T. Road in the city.
After his name came up in the investigation, Shenoy had absconded from the city on 24th March and had been evading arrest for last three months. During this period, he had made two failed attempts to gain anticipatory bail, first from District Sessions Court and next from the state High Court.
So far seven arrests have been made with regard to the case. Apart from Naresh the other arrested are Shrikanth (42), Shailesh alais Shailu (40), Shiva alias Shiva Prasanna (28), Vineeth Poojary (26) and Nischith Devadiga (23).
Naresh’s close friend and associate, photographer K. Manjunath Shenoy alias Manju (39) was also arrested for helping the accused to abscond. He was later granted bail.
Due to the public interest issues pursued by the murder victim and the powerful political connections of the accused, the noted activist and rationalist Prof. Narendra Nayak had taken up the cause and led a spirited campaign for gaining justice for Vinayak Baliga.
It is suspected that the motive for the murder relates to financial irregularities in Venkatramana Temple, Car Street and Kashi Math. Both these are cash rich religious entities belonging to Gauda Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) community. Naresh Shenoy was actively involved with both of them.
It is learnt that Vinayak Baliga - a fellow GSB community member – had been attempting to expose the underhand dealings of the culprits in these religious bodies. A suspected larger conspiracy with more powerful backroom players is also expected to be revealed in the probe.