A tragedy no one saw coming

A tragedy no one saw coming

The three-storey building in Jayanagar where Ganesh lived with Sahana. His siblings also live in the same building. The family built this after demolishing an older structure.

It is a crime few can comprehend. How could the jovial H K Ganesh have killed his wife Sahana and shot at two of his three children? He was a bright engineer and talented musician, with no record of violent behaviour.

In pictures splashed across the media, the 49-year-old is seen wearing a T-shirt with the inscription ‘Music is My Life,’ a testimony to his lifelong passion in classical music. 

Ganesh is now behind bars: police caught him on Friday, a day after Sahana’s mother had found her lying in a pool of blood in their Jayanagar home. He is the son of H V Krishnamurthy, violin stalwart and guru to many well-known performing artistes in Bengaluru.

In fact, Ganesh has played music at an advanced level. In keeping with the family’s illustrious traditions, Ganesh had taught at Vijaya College of Music, which his father Krishnamurthy had founded and run from home. (Krishnamurthy is no more.) Ganesh had also accompanied his father at many concerts. 

People living in the neighbourhood, used to the soothing strains of classical music, were too shocked to hear gunshot sounds from the three-storey house on Thursday. The house bears the plaque ‘Music Home’ at its gates. 

The house is near the Jayanagar post office, a stone’s throw from a police station, a Ganesha temple, and a host of eating joints including Sukh Sagar and Maiya’s. The bustling neighbourhood is agog, especially since this was a family everyone knew and respected. 

Mallika Rao (name changed), a relative of Ganesh, describes him as “friendly and jovial.” “Ganesh would joke a lot and keep guests entertained. It is hard to believe he could have done this,” she says. 

Suhasini Murthy, a neighbour, saw Sahana and Ganesh as a “loving couple.”

“There were no signs of any tension between them. They were warm-hearted and generously welcomed anybody who walked into their home. Sahana, as I knew her, was capable who assisted her husband and at the same time managed the household well. We can’t believe she is no more,” says Suhasini. 

Ganesh’s family and friends who attended Sahana’s cremation on Saturday, look to the future with gloomy apprehension. “Sahana’s mother is distraught. The future of the children looks bleak,” a relative says.

‘My daughter was bold and outgoing’
In Sahana’s death, 82-year-old Nagaraj Shankar has lost his only child. “The incident occurred when we weren’t at home. Ganesh and Sahana were married for more than two decades, and were a pleasant couple. We are all distantly related. We know Ganesh’s family and that’s how we agreed to the marriage,” he recalls.
 Nagaraj says he had never seen the couple tense. “The murder is still a mystery and I hope the police will be able to tell us what really happened,” he says. Nagaraj remembers Sahana as bold and dynamic. “She was so capable and outgoing, I sometimes thought she should have been born a man. She was friendly and got along well with everybody,” he says.

In real estate business, guns a status symbol
A top officer with the Criminal Investigation Department says thousands in the city have taken gun licences. “They are desperate to acquire guns. But I haven’t  seen any gun being used for self-protection,” he says. Keeping a gun at home is liking having a ticking bomb, he says. Businessmen in the city mainly use licensed guns for two purposes: to kill themselves when they are depressed, or to threaten rivals when a dispute arises. 
It is not easy to get a gun licence. “Out of 100 applications, only one percent is likely to get processed. The applicants are usually tycoons and land developers who deal in large amounts of cash and own high-value assets. They feel secure with a gun. But it is false security, just psychological,” says the officer.

Seek support in distress
People in cities live under tremendous pressure. 
Sometimes, even a simple provocation is enough for them to pick up whatever is at hand to cause harm, says Pratima Murthy, professor of psychiatry, Nimhans. “In this case, the firearm makes it so much more horrific,” she told Metrolife. “People in distress should seek mental health support.”

He was caught in realty whirlpool
A family friend, who requested anonymity, tells Metrolife how Ganesh started out with a xerox shop and then gravitated to real estate. “Theirs is a Brahmin family, educated and cultured. What is appalling is that this has happened in a regular family with middle-class aspirations. Ganesh is a qualified engineer. He went into real estate only much later in life.” The house always reverberates with singing and instrumental music of a high order.
Ganesh started his entrepreneurship with a small xerox shop, 15-20 years ago, in a garage next to his house. The family has lived in this house for more than five decades. Ganesh was born and brought up in Bengaluru. Scores of youngsters, now scattered across the world, have learnt music from him and his family.
It is hard to imagine Ganesh pulled the trigger on his wife and children. He is the youngest among his siblings, and has a twin sister. He has two older brothers. Ganesh and Sahana had three children: two biological and one adopted. It was only after he was financially stable that he adopted a girl. And Sahana agreed to it: that definitely calls for a large heart.
What happened to him can be connected to the maniacal growth of Bengaluru. Ganesh got into real estate, where ambitions have no limits. And it looks like what happened is a direct consequence of that. 
‘That builder owns four Mercs, so I should have five. I should also own a licenced gun like him,’ must have got into his head. These are all meaningless status symbols. We in this city have changed the scale of luxury.
Ganesh was in deep debt and I think resistance from his family, especially his wife, to sell the property to clear his debt, is what triggered the murder.