Police sources said Vinay Kulkarni allegedly conspired to kill Yogesh Gowda and is also suspected to have intimidated eight witnesses.

Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni gives a speech in Dharwad. He is wearing a brown coloured shirt and holding the mic in his right hand. Facebook
news Crime Thursday, November 05, 2020 - 09:40

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday detained former Congress Minister Vinay Kulkarni in connection with the murder of BJP leader from Dharwad -- Yogesh Gowda. Police sources said that the investigators suspect that Vinay Kulkarni allegedly conspired to kill Yogesh Gowda and is also suspected to have intimidated eight witnesses when the case was set to go for trial in 2017. 

The CBI arrived at Vinay Kulkarni’s residence early on Thursday morning and took him to the Dharwad Upanagara Police Station for questioning. Yogesh Gowda, a BJP zilla panchayat member in Dharwad, was brutally hacked to death in broad daylight on the morning of June 16, 2016, whilst he was on his way to the gymnasium he owned in the city’s Saptapurabavi area. 

The incident was caught on CCTV cameras, where five men, who were waiting for Yogesh Gowda to arrive, attacked him with machetes. Just a day after the incident, the Dharwad Police had arrested Basavaraja Shivappa Muttagi, Vinayak Basavaraj Kadagi, Vikram Udaykumar, Sandeep alias Sandy Somashekhar, Keerti Kumar and Basavaraja Kurahatti near the Kalaghatagi Bypass Road. 

The then Police Commissioner of Dharwad, Panduranga Rane had held a press conference and said that Yogesh Gowda was killed over a land dispute. The police had earlier said that Yogesh Gowda had allegedly occupied 15 acres of land belonging to Basavaraj Muttagi and had allegedly threatened to kill him. The police had said that Muttagi had planned to kill Yogesh to extract revenge. 

The BJP, which was the opposition party at the time, had alleged the involvement of Congress party leaders in Yogesh Gowda’s murder. The BJP claimed that Yogesh was killed due to political vendetta. 

However, after the BJP came to power in July 2019, the government requested the CBI to probe the matter. On September 24, 2019, the CBI took over the probe. In March this year, the CBI arrested six more persons in connection with the case including Dinesh, Sunil, Nutan, Ashwath, Shahnawaz and Nazeer Ahmed. The CBI also questioned former Dharwad Police Commissioner Panduranga Rane, and former Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) from Dharwad, Jinendra Kanagavi and Mallikarjuna Baladandi in connection with the case. In June this year, the CBI filed a preliminary chargesheet in the case and had stated that Yogesh Gowda’s murder was politically motivated. 

Police sources told TNM that based on information received upon questioning the accused persons, the CBI suspects that Vinay Kulkarni allegedly hired men to kill Yogesh Gowda and that he was allegedly involved in intimidating eight witnesses in the case back in 2017. 

“We have reason to believe that eight witnesses in the case were intimidated at the behest of Vinay Kulkarni. Our investigation found that four of them were taken to Rashi farm house in Dharwad, one person was taken to Goa, and three were taken to Ramya Residency Hotel in Dharwad in 2017 and were threatened to remain quiet about the murder. We are questioning Vinay Kulkarni about this,” a source said. 

The CBI also suspects that Kulkarni allegedly hired hitmen to kill Yogesh Gowda. The BJP had in 2016 alleged that Yogesh Gowda was murdered due to his close proximity to Union Minister Pralhad Joshi and that his rivals, allegedly from the Congress party, did not want him to grow politically. 

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