Naresh Shenoy, a former convenor of the NaMo Brigade, a youth organisation floated in Karnataka to drum up support for Narendra Modi ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, has emerged as a key suspect in the murder of an RTI activist.
39 years Naresh Shenoy was absconding, Police have launched a search to find him, who is closely associated with the RSS in Karnataka, after investigations revealed the involvement of three of his associates in the murder of Vinayak Pandurang Baliga, barely 75 metres from his home. A search was conducted at Shenoy’s residence in as part of the murder probe. Police said he has been missing for over a week and his cell phone is switched off. Baliga, also a BJP worker, was involved in a battle with authorities at the local Venkataramana Temple, where he prayed every morning, over alleged misappropriation of temple funds to the tune of Rs. 9 crore, which he discovered by investigating and filing RTI applications.
V. P. Baliga had filed as many as 92 RTI applications over various issues, including land encroachment and illegal buildings in Mangalore. But police believe he was primarily targeted over the row surrounding Venkataramana Temple, which belongs to the GSB community. Police sources said Shenoy was also associated with the temple and was considered an ally of some authorities Baliga antagonised. Mangalore city police picked up two youths who were allegedly contracted to carry out the murder Nishith Devadiga, and Vinith Poojary. Investigations have found that the two persons arrested so far were contracted for a small sum by a person identified as Shivu, who in turn was allegedly contacted by Shenoy’s associate Shrikanth. The police on Thursday issued public notices declaring Shivu and Shrikanth as prime suspects in Baliga’s murder. Shrikanth, a former activist of a Hindutva group in Mangalore, was employed by Shenoy to manage operations of a few hostels that he runs in the city, sources said.
Police have found that another worker employed by Shenoy, identified as Vignesh, was at the scene of the crime with a getaway car, a Qualis, to help the contract killers flee the spot. Police sources said a search is on to find Vignesh and the car. Shenoy is a powerful local leader closely associated with RSS leader Sullibele Chakravarthy, the mentor of the Yuva Brigade that Shenoy created in place of the Namo Brigade after the general elections in May 2014. In case of Venkatramana Temple, he found that out of nearly Rs. 25 crore received as donation by the temple between 2007 and 2015 for renovation, nearly Rs. 9 crore was allegedly misappropriated.
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