An intra-family feud for political domination and lucrative contracts resulted in the murder of former municipal councillor Rekha Kadiresh, police suspect.
Rekha, 43, was stabbed to death in broad daylight on June 24 on a bustling street in Cottonpet, an old Bengaluru neighbourhood close to the KSR City Railway Station.
A member of the BJP, Rekha was stabbed to death in front of her office in Cottonpet. Rekha represented ward number 138 (Chalavadipalya) in the previous BBMP council.
The garbage clearing contract for Chalavadipalya ward, near Chamarajpet, was changed once in six months. Rekha, who wielded clout in the area, reportedly refused to give the contract to Peter, a close associate of her husband Kadiresh, a rowdy-sheeter, who was hacked to death three years ago.
Peter is among those arrested for Rekha’s murder. Police say he tried to escape and they had to shoot him and his accomplice Surya in the knee. The two are now in hospital.
West division police have also arrested Kadiresh’s sister Mala Rajkannan and her son Arul. Mala fanned Peter’s resentment and goaded him to kill Rekha, according to the police.
Just off Mysuru Road, Chalavadipalya is inhabited mostly by construction workers and vegetable vendors.
“The area was earlier notorious for brewing illicit liquor. Ganja peddling is now rampant, with people being both users and sellers. And nothing is done without the knowledge of local politicians,” an investigative officer told Metrolife.
Kadiresh, a history-sheeter, allegedly used to peddle ganja and had established control over the area. Rekha, his second wife, was elected municipal councillor, and using her influence, he got many cases against him dropped. He was eventually eliminated in a gang war, the investigator says.
“Peter, the primary accused in the Rekha murder case, was close to Kadiresh. He was more like a family member and had a say in all important matters. After Kadiresh’s death, Rekha kept Peter away and he didn’t have access to her office or the money,” he says.
Peter was lobbying to get them some bills sanctioned. This too didn’t go down well with Rekha, says the police officer.
Mala, who wanted to stake a claim on her brother’s property and position, used to get into frequent fights with Rekha. “Mala wanted one of her children to take Rekha’s position and become the next municipal councillor. This, she thought, would help her illicit businesses,” the officer says.
Police say Mala, Arul, Surya and Peter have a history of crime. “Mala and Arul are wanted in multiple murder cases. When we look at how they conspired and then went around the city in an auto to avoid arrest, it is clear that they had connections with political bigwigs,” the officer says.
According to the police, Peter had six criminal cases against him, including three murders, one assault and two attempted dacoities and Surya is accused of two murders and two attempted murders.
A BBMP assistant executive engineer says Rekha was efficient. “Her mobile number was printed on the wall of her office, sending out a message that anybody could approach her anytime. She had got 60 per cent of the road and drain repairs done during the pandemic,” he says.
A senior health inspector says BBMP officials were scared to visit the area because it was unruly and violent. “Rekha was under pressure to change the garbage collection contract every six months. I would sign the approval,” he says.
Even children as young as 10 are addicted to ganja. A vacant site behind the BBMP primary health centre in Anjanappa Garden is their ‘adda’, he says.
“Doctors and nurses complain about children throwing stones at the hospital. Police had to intervene to stop it,” he says.
This case was cracked in less than four days and arrests were made within 24 hours, say the police. “Usually we see people who come and surrender while the actual accused are roaming free. That didn’t happen here,” says the officer.
Police claim the accused attacked them with a dagger in the wee hours of the morning, and they had to shoot two of the accused in the knee.
Garbage contracts are lucrative
An expert who works with the BBMP says contractors, corporators and MLAs form a nexus and make a lot of money from garbage contracts. About Rs 3,000 crore of tax money is spent on garbage clearance annually. “The councillors just get a Rs 10,000 monthly honorarium but control the contracts and make money,” he explains. If garbage movement is restricted to wards or even clusters of wards, the need for a long-distance transport network vanishes, but the idea always runs into resistance at the BBMP. “This saves money and stops our city from dumping garbage in a faraway village,” he says.