Mangaluru, June 11: The rejection of the anticipatory bail petition of Naresh Shenoy, the prime accused in the Vinayaka Baliga murder case, brings down the curtain on one of the major acts of the whole sordid murder and the attempts by the accused to evade the investigation. Shenoy had applied for bail at the IInd additional sessions court at Mangalore which had been promptly dismissed. So, he had gone on appeal to the vacation bench of the Karnataka High court at Bangalore. While the first application was for anticipatory bail due postponements, an interim application was filed under the excuse of urgency! But, that too did not see the light of any judgment and the main application itself was heard on the 7th inst after a number of adjournments and the judgment was delivered on the 9th rejecting the application, which brings to an end all attempts to avoid custodial interrogation by the police! To his credit he has managed to evade arrest for more than two months!
The murder took place on the 21st of March and attempts were made to fit in two freshers, which came to a naught as the person who had actually committed the gruesome murder, However, the forces behind the murder have not abandoned them! As of recent application for bail for them had been submitted to the court, details of which are given below! Shiva was arrested later. When he revealed the name of the person who had given him the contract for the killing that is that of Naresh Shenoy, he promptly disappeared on 24th of March and since then has evaded the long arm of the law, in the meanwhile trying for anticipatory bail! While he was available to his lawyers and his co-conspirators the police were unable to get their hands on him!
Since Vinayak Baliga was a RTI activist who had taken up nearly a hundred cases the needles of suspicion were pointing out in many directions. There were the cases against the builders, a school in his neighborhood and his beloved Venkatramana temple. The investigations into the affairs of the temple naturally lead back to the Kashi math and the questionable deals that occurred. In his attempts to take on the cabal that was holding the temple in its iron fist he had taken to question the accounts of the renovation of the temple which went into more than 20 crores. He had found out that huge amounts had been misappropriated and the accounts had been certified to be in order by a chartered accountant Mr.Jagannath Kamath. Baligahad asked for a re-audit of these accounts. Here one of the beneficiaries of the largess has been one of those arrested in connection with the case Mr.Manjunath Shenoy aka Manju Neereshwalya. He has had a virtual monopoly over the media coverage over the temple, the Kashi math and the so called ‘affairs of the community’. His monopoly was such that other photographers of the community were not even allowed to cover the renovation of the temple functions.
Huge amounts paid to him for media coverage had been pointed out by Baliga and questioned. Baliga had asked for the appointment of another auditor to go through these accounts and had prepared the finance for it. He had questioned the transfer of a large piece of land owned by the temple to Kashi math.If it is that the temple is under the spiritual guidance of the math and there is consensus in the running of the two what was the need for this transfer? The reason is simple. If the land is in the hands of the temple its use or misuse can be questioned by any one of the samaj. Once it is transferred to the math, its use cannot be questioned.
Did Naresh Shenoy who is absconding have plans to ‘develop’ this land? He and his gang have had a history of ‘developing’ disputed properties after purchasing them at throw away prices. Another one of the suspects questioned One Vedavyasa Kamath, whose house was also raided by the police when they were in search of the absconder Naresh Shenoy, is said to be his partner in such deals using his political clout to settle such issues. There is also a Sevanjali Trust being run by the absconder Shenoy. Its manager is one Mr.Hanumanth Kamath who has been shouting from the roof tops that his employer is innocent! Though one has to be loyal to an employer it goes beyond the call of duty to declare his innocence in a murder case when the accused himself has been absconding. The affairs of this trust too are to be investigated by the police.
The last straws if one will excuse the plural have been the communications shot off by Baliga a few weeks before he was cruelly murdered. He had written letters to a number of people. One was to the convener of a charitable trust to be formed called as Sudha Sevapratishtana. In that Baliga had alleged that the organization had people of very dubious repute as its members and one of them was the absconder Shenoy against whom Baliga had made very derisive comments. He had also written another letter to one Mr.T.Ganapathi Pai who was supposed to be the head of a federation of all the temples belonging to the GSB community. More than that he had written a letter to the present head of Kashi math questioning him about the (mis)use of money collected from the devotees. Baliga had asked for accountability saying that the amount belonged to the community and must be put for such use that would benefit the community, particularly the socially and economically backward sections. When anticipatory bail was applied for by the accused Naresh Shenoy, the prosecution had relied on these to establish mens rea for the contract killing.
The whole idea behind preventing the custodial interrogation of the accused Naresh Shenoy seems to be preventing him from mentioning the names of some of those behind the scenes- the motivators, co-conspirators and the financers. Some of these seem to be occupying places of importance. They are all afraid that once the absconder opens up they too will be summoned for questioning. The whole purpose of moving heaven and earth and spending huge amounts of money is to seen that Naresh Shenoy should be protected from custodial interrogation. We have come to know that there have been attempts to put pressure on the police through central ministers too, which have been resisted by the commissioner. As I am writing this news has been received that he absconding accused Naresh Shenoy is not content with the orders of the high court rejecting his bail. He wants to approach the Supreme Court!
While the anticipatory bail application of Naresh Shenoy the main accused in the sensational Vinayak Baliga murder case has been rejected attempts are being made to obtain regular bail for the co-accused and probably the attempt would be to seek parity and obtain bail for the ones absconding. An application was made for bail for the first two arrested Nitesh Devadiga and Veenith Pujary Cri Mis. no 496/2016 was filed at the IInd additional sessions judge at Mangalore was rejected at the 7th June. This we feel is an attempt to get bail for the co-accused by hook or crook and then the main accused could claim parity and get bail! We are given to understand that it was strongly opposed by the police. We are sure that the forces behind this will try to move the high court next. So, we have to ever vigilant about these attempts.
While there is a long way to go for justice for Vinayak Baliga we can say that by the denial of anticipatory bail by the High court injustice has been prevented! Because if bail were to be granted in such a case it would have given a signal that one can hire contract killers, murder someone and be out on bail destroying the evidence and intimidating the witnesses. Again one wonders as to where the huge resources for hiring fancy lawyers, running around are coming from. There have been rumors that large amounts have been paid to some police officials and politicians to scuttle the case. In fact at the early stages of the investigation efforts had been made to build up a weak case which would collapse once it came to the court. But the active intervention of the commissioner of police Mr.Chandrashekar saw to it that they could continue in the right direction. He and his team particularly the ACP Mr.Tilakchandra have been relentlessly pursuing the case though they have been not able to nab two of the key accused so far, we hope that they will do that soon.
Will Naresh Shenoy surrender to the police or the court now? Since he is going on appeal to the Supreme court, who takes care of the expenditure? Whose are the unseen hands supporting them? While all these questions are up in the minds of the people, the eerie silence of the whole political community is surprising- not a single political party has taken up this issue seriously. The so called leading lights of the GSB community who tried to raise a stink when the PA of the seer Kashi math, one Vishwanath Bhat was said to be arrested when he had been just called for questioning by the police are now silent. Though one wonders how the fair name of the community gets sullied if a person is summoned for questioning, at that time about a month back there had been a meeting of a unregistered, hitherto unknown organization called GSB Rakshana Vedike who had threatened to take to the streets for maligning the fair name of the community and the math are nowhere to be seen.
One can see that the prosecution and the counsel for Baliga’s parents have argued that it was Baliga’s questioning of the temple affairs and his writing of a letter to the seer of Kashi mutt seem to be causing factors for his murder. While none utters a word about the crime of murdering some one, they are more concerned with ‘saving’ the name of their temple and math. It is also difficult to understand as to how the name of the community or a math gets defamed if some individuals associated with it are apprehended for their role in a heinous crime- the murder of a member of their own community, that too for questioning the irregularities in their revered institutions like the Venkataramana temple and the Kashi math