The Dakshina Kannada police arrested two more people on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Tulu actor Surendra Bhandari. There have been 11 arrests in the case so far. The arrested are Prateek from Belthangady, and Jayesh from Mangaluru.
According to the investigating police, the duo had allegedly received Rs 2.5 lakh to harbour and assist Satish Kullal and Girish, who are the main accused persons in the murder case. They allegedly arranged vehicles for Satish and Girish, who were caught by CCTV cameras around the scene of the crime.
According to police sources, the murder was planned by the criminal Akashbhavan Sharan, who was lodged in Parappana Agrahara prison after he was accused of offences including the sexual assault of a minor, murders and extortion. He was shifted to Parappana Agrahara after he was arrested under the sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor in Manipal in 2019.
Police investigating Sharan's involvement in Surendra's murder found that he was using an international number to orchestrate Surendra's murder from prison.
Sharan is allegedly an operative of underworld fugitive Vijay Shetty, alias Vicky Shetty. Although, police sources said that during the course of the investigation into Surendra's murder, Sharan distanced himself from Vicky Shetty, citing a fall out from five months ago.
Surendra Bhandari, a popular Tulu actor and a rowdy-sheeter, was fatally stabbed in his apartment on October 21. The crime was soon linked to another brazen murder of businessman and rowdy-sheeter Kishan Hegde. Kishan was followed and murdered in public view by gangs of men led by Manoj Kodikere, his business rival, in Udupi's Hiriadka on September 24.
A month after Surendraâ€™s death in Bantwal of Dakshina Kannada district, an audio clip was released to the media, claiming that Surendraâ€™s murder was in retaliation to Kishan Hegdeâ€™s killing.
The audio clip was purportedly from Sathish Kullal, a long-time associate of Surendra. It claimed responsibility for the murder and stated that it was in retaliation to Surendra allegedly giving support for Kishan's murder. This claim is denied by close friends of Surendra, who maintained that he and Kishan "ran in completely different circles."
Satish was arrested along with Girish by Dakshina Kannada police last week. Girish is a tattoo artist from Yelinje near Kinnigoli, and a close friend of Kishan Hegde. Police said that he attacked Surendra after he was told that the actor supported Kishan's murder. Investigating police said that it was. Sharan who told Girish that they are avenging Kishan's murder by attacking Surendra.
Bengaluru police are also investigating the murder of bar owner Manish Shetty in central Bengaluru, for a possible link to Kishan Hegde's murder. Another purported audio leaked to two media houses - TV9 and Daijiworld - of underworld fugitive Vicky Shetty claimed responsibility for the murder and said that it was in retaliation to Kishan's murder in Udupi.