Actor Darshan case: Police suspect party before assault, notice to actor Chikkanna

An officer said that the victim’s phone would act as a piece of key evidence as the motive for the murder, for now, was Renukaswamy’s objectionable messages and comments sent to Pavithra on Instagram.
Last Updated : 17 June 2024, 18:08 IST

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The police on Monday intensified the investigation into the murder of Renukaswamy and served a notice to another Kannada actor, Chikkanna, said to be close to actor Darshan.

Last week, the police arrested Darshan, his friend Pavithra Gowda and 11 others in connection with the case.

The police claimed that some of the suspects, along with Darshan, had gathered at the Stonny Brook restobar in RR Nagar on June 8, and partied, before they left for the shed where Renukaswamy was held captive. Chikkanna was present during the party.

At around 4 pm, the investigators took Darshan and some arrested suspects, including Vinay V, who purportedly owns the restobar, to Stonny Brook for a spot mahazar. Chikkanna was also present during the inquest. Vinay is the nephew of Pattanagere Jayanna, who owns the plot where the shed where Renukaswamy was held and tortured is located.

The police are investigating whether the conspiracy to murder Renukaswamy, 33, from Chitradurga, was hatched during the gathering. Reports suggested that Chikkanna may be made a witness to the case.

A common friend of Darshan and Chikkanna told DH that the two actors have been close friends for a while. "But the two had a fallout before Covid and I brought the two together and patched them up. They have been together and thick friends since. Chikkanna knows how to deal with tough situations, especially when he is cornered," said the source.

He also said the two party together on weekends. "But he (Chikkanna) is not someone who will put his career and life in jeopardy to save someone else," added the source.

Search for mobile phone

A team of investigators also scoured a stormwater drain in Sumanahalli for the “missing” mobile phone belonging to Renukaswamy, whose body was disposed of at the spot in the wee hours of June 9. The search was called off in the evening after the mobile was not located.

The police sources claimed that the suspects had videographed Renukaswamy apologising on that phone.

An officer said that the victim’s phone would act as a piece of key evidence as the motive for the murder, for now, was Renukaswamy’s objectionable messages and comments sent to Pavithra on Instagram.

"The last location is pinged at the spot. Hence, we suspect the mobile device was disposed of along with the body," he said.

Plainclothes cops investigate

From Sunday night to Monday morning, officials in plainclothes were scouring for evidence in Chitradurga.

According to officials, an inquiry was held till late Sunday night at the residences of some of the suspects, including Raghavendra, who ferried the victim to Bengaluru.

Another official said that the chain, ring, and silver arm ring found in Raghavendra’s house were identified to be that of Renukaswamy, which the police claimed the suspects removed from the victim’s body. Investigators also spoke with the victim’s relatives and friends and visited the local pharmacy in Chitradurga where he worked.

Total arrests 17

S Girish, Deputy Commissioner of Police (West), who is overseeing the investigation, announced the arrest of Raju alias Dhanraj on Monday morning. Raju was named as the accused number nine in the first remand application submitted by the police to the magistrate. With this, the total arrests stood at 17.

The police suspect that Raju had brought the device used to administer electric shock to Renukaswamy before he succumbed.

Apart from Darshan and Pavithra, the other arrested are Vinay V, Nagaraju R, Laxman M, Pradosh S, Pawan K, Deepak Kumar M, Nandish, Nikhil Nayak, Raghavendra, Karthik, Keshava Murthy, Ravi, Jagadish alias Jagga and Anu Kumar.

'I was called for dinner that evening'

Responding to the notice by the police, actor Chikkanna told the media, “I was called for dinner that evening. Hence, I went there. The police had called me for questioning regarding that. Since the investigation is on, I cannot comment further.”

Published 17 June 2024, 18:08 IST

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