Tabloid editor Ravi Belagere arrested

Tabloid editor Ravi Belagere arrested

Ravi Belagere, editor of Kannada weekly 'Hi Bengaluru', was arrested on Friday for paying a sharpshooter to kill his colleague Sunil Heggaravalli, police said.

Joint Commissioner of Police Satheesh Kumar told reporters the supari (killing contract) had come to light when the police were interrogating Tahir Hussain, arrested on December 3 from a lodge in Parappana Agrahara.

Hussain fell into the police net when he was trying to sell a country-made pistol. He revealed that Belagere had instructed Vijayapura-based sharpshooter Shashidhar Ramachandra Mundewadi to kill Heggaravalli, Kumar said.

"We followed leads, registered an FIR, and arrested Belagere," he announced.


At Padmanabha Nagar

The police picked up an ailing Belagere from his office in Padmanabha Nagar, after questioning him for about an hour.   They also seized a revolver and double barrel gun from him.

"We arrested Shashidhar on Thursday at 11.15 pm. He confessed Belagere had directly interacted with him and given him a supari to kill Heggaravalli," Kumar said.

Police wouldn't specify the motive, saying it was 'personal'.  
On August 28, Shashidhar and his associate Viju Badiger visited Belagere's office. Belagere gave them a gun, four live bullets and a knife, besides Rs 15,000 as advance, according to Kumar.

The same day, an assistant working at Belagere's office took them to Heggaravalli's house in Uttarahalli. They waited around from 1 pm to 2.30 pm. Heggaravalli stepped out and quickly went back in, and they couldn't carry out the killing, police said.

"The two came back to Belagere and returned his gun and bullets, saying they would do the job after a month," Kumar said.

Belagere has been booked for attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy under the Arms Act.


I can't  believe it: Heggaravalli

Sunil Heggaravalli had worked for Ravi Belagere's tabloid for 14 years before he quit in 2014.

"He called me after (editor) Gauri Lankesh's murder three months ago, saying he wanted me to return and help run the weekly," Heggaravalli told DH.

He said Belagere could have even slapped him and corrected him if he had done anything wrong. "I respected him and he had the liberty to punish me. But I never imagined he would want me dead," Heggaravalli said.

Heggaravalli spent almost all day at the CCB office, telling the police about his relationship with Belagere. He is likely to file a formal complaint soon, police said.


Who is Shashidhar, the sharpshooter?

Shashidhar Ramachandra Mundewadi hails from northern Karnataka and is implicated in three murder cases.

In 2017, he was arrested in Miraj for illegal possession of firearms and was released on bail after a month and a half.   He then contacted Tahir Hussain, a gun dealer.
Shashidhar, who accepted the contract to kill Heggaravalli, will remain in custody for 14 days, police said.


He is innocent, says daughter Bhavana

Bhavana, Ravi Belagere's younger daughter, said he had licences for the revolver and double-barrel gun in his possession. "He is clean. Let the investigation determine what happened," she told DH.

Series of arrests

* Dec 3: Tahir Hussain arrested for trying to sell gun
* Dec 7: 'Contract killer' Shashidhar Mundewadi arrested
* Dec 8: Ravi Belagere arrested

Friday action

* 1.30 pm: Police go to Belagere's office in Padmanabha Nagar.
* 6.30 pm: They take him to Central Crime Branch in Chamarajpet. His daughter Chethana accompanies him.
* 7.30 pm: He is admitted to Victoria Hospital.

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