Police arrest five for Ashraf murder

Suspects remanded in cops' custody; motive for murder yet to be ascertained, says IGP

The district police and Mangaluru CCB sleuths have succeeded in cracking the sensational murder of autorickshaw driver and SDPI activist Mohammed Ashraf by arresting five suspects at Padubidri in Udupi district on Saturday.

Ashraf, a resident of Kalai, was murdered near Benjanapadavu on June 21.
The police have seized four two-wheelers, a chopper and a knife from the suspects Pavan Kumar alias Punda (24) of Pudu village in Bantwal taluk, Santhosh alias Santhu (23), Shivaprasad alias Shivu (24), both residents of Thumbe, Ranjith (28) of Pudu and Abhin Rai alias Abhi (23) of Thenkabellur in Bantwal taluk, IGP (Western Range) P Harishekaran told newsmen here.

He said the incident had created tension in Bantwal taluk, which was already under boil following to some untoward incidents in the recent past.  The suspects tried to disturb peace in Bantwal through their act.

Harishekaran said two persons - Bharath Kumdelu and Divyaraj Shetty - hatched a conspiracy to murder Ashraf. The motive behind the murder is yet to be ascertained. Barring Santhosh, all other suspects have criminal background, he added.

Abhin Rai was involved in a clash during Tipu Jayanti programme in 2015. Shivaprasad was part of a clash reported from Thumbe two years ago and two other cases are pending against him. Ranjith was also involved in two criminal cases while Pavan was part of a team which desecrated a mosque at Bantwal and he is also facing five assault cases as well, he explained.

Under the guidance of Bharath and Divyaraj, the suspects were hatching a conspiracy to murder Ashraf for the last one month. On June 21, the gang followed Ashraf and murdered him using lethal weapons. The weapons used for murder were left at the spot. The suspects fled the spot after committing the crime, he said.

The IGP said the investigation teams had been to Kerala border, Udupi, Mangaluru, Chikkamagaluru and Bengaluru to collect vital details in connection with the murder.

Shivaprasad, Ranjith, Pavan and Santhosh had attempted to assault one Unaid at Thumbe on June 20. All the suspects were produced before the court and were remanded in police custody for five days, he stated.

The IGP said the police are investigating about the organisations to which the suspects belong along with those who provided money and technical inputs to commit the crime.
It is said that the suspects are Bajrang Dal members. The police, however, have not confirmed this.

Goonda Act

To a query on invoking Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Gamblers, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Slum Grabbers and Video or Audio Pirates Act (Goonda Act) against the suspects in connection with SDPI activist Mohammed Ashraf Kali, IGP (Western Range) P Harishekaran said the police department is considering invoking Goonda Act against them as well. The department has initiated a process to invoke Goonda Act against 20 persons involved in series of criminal activities in Bantwal. A special team has been formed to initiate the process of invoking Goonda Act, he added.

COCA against Vicky Shetty

IGP (Western Range) P Harishekaran said that the police will invoke Control of Organised Crime Act against underworld don Vicky Shetty whose role is clear in the murder of Karopady Gram Panchayat vice president member Jaleel Karopady.

Jaleel Karopady was hacked to death by assailants, who came on a motor bike, at the Gram Panchayat building on April 20. Though the police had arrested 11 persons in connection with the murder, the kingpin is still at large.

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