Politics behind Nelamangala murders

Gangs of Bettanagere

Crime and politics go hand in hand in Nelamangala. The gruesome murder of B M L Krishnappa on Wednesday is the eighth one in the recent gang war history of this town on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Shops in Nelamangala down shutters in the aftermath of JD(S) leader B M L Krishnappa’s murder, on Thursday. DH Photo

Battle for political dominance between the Kurubas and the Vokkaligas is the root cause of this bitter gang war. Bettanagere, a small village near Nelamangala, is a Kuruba-dominated village. Only four Vokkaliga families live there.

The now dreaded Bettenagere Seena and his cousin Shankara belong to this community. Seena’s father Hanumanthaiah had contested the Nelamanagala Taluk Milk Suppliers Co-operative Society elections in early 2000. Balekayi Mandi Basavaraj was his opponent.

When Basavaraj refused to withdraw from the contest, the Bettanagere brothers allegedly killed him, sowing the seeds of hatred.

Though Seena and Shankara went to jail in the case, they managed to get the main witnesses in the case - lawyer Devaraj, his father Bylappa and Krishnamurthy, who testified against them - eliminated.

That established the dominance of the Bettanagere brothers. Seena was christened the don of Nelamangala and was elected to the Hoskur Gram Panchayat unopposed. Now, his mother Lakshmi is the president of the Gram Panchayat.

The gang struck gold controlling the still nascent real estate market of Nelamnagala then. The brothers ruled the taluk with the political patronage of the Vokkaliga political heavyweights. However, a land belonging to Shankara’s father became a bone of contention between Seena and Shankara forcing them to part ways. The brothers formed their own gangs.

Vowing to eliminate each other, the gangs made many attempts on Seena and Shankara. The most recent attack was on March, 11, 2011, when a rowdy acting on a supari, fired six rounds at Seena at the Mysore Central prison.

However, Seena survived. As the attempts to kill each other failed, the gang focussed on people who supported their rivals. Seena and his gang killed Lohith Gowda, son of the then Ramanagara BDCC Bank director Revanasiddaiah, who was funding Shankara. Later, the gang also hacked to death Ravi, a lawyer, who fought Shankara’s cases.

B M L Krishnappa, who was murdered allegedly by Seena’s gang on Wednesday, is believed to be a follower of Shankara.

During the Zilla Panchayat elections, Krishnappa was pitted against Yadaal Devaraj, Seena’s brother-in-law. But Devaraj was killed by Shankara’s gang.

Seena and his gang had tried to eliminate Krishnappa in August 2009. Devaraj’s sons were in the forefront of the attack. But Krishnappa had managed to escape. However, he was not that lucky on Wednesday.

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