Prominent Bengaluru-based journalist and founder of Hai Bangalore tabloid Ravi Belagere passed away on Friday morning. He was 62. According to sources, Ravi suffered a heart attack on Thursday night at the Hai Bangalore office. He was declared dead by Apollo Hospitals where he was admitted on Thursday night itself. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.
Ravi was running the Kannada tabloid, which he started in 1995, as its editor-in-chief. He started his career as a history lecturer in Ballari. He came to Bengaluru in 1984 and worked as a receptionist at a lodging facility. He took up many low-paying jobs, also distributing newspaper and milk. He later began working in a printing press. In 1995, he started Hai Bangalore along with parters RT Vittalmurty, Somnath, Jogi and Sangam Dev.
Ravi’s tabloid became known for its extensive coverage of the Bengaluru underworld and the dreaded gangsters in the city. His columns in the tabloid, including Love Lavike, Khaas Baat and Paapigala Lokadalli, became extremely popular. In the colum Paapigala Lokadalli, he wrote about the inner workings of the underworld and the police force. The popularity of Paapigala Lokadalli also led him to publish a two-part book of the same name which opened up discussions about the underworld in Bengaluru.
Ravi later started a magazine called O Manase, which also became a success. He was a contestant in Bigg Boss Kannada Season 7.
Apart from being a noted journalist, Ravi authored 70 books. Among other works, his Kannada translation of Himalayan Blunder enjoyed lasting popularity. His writings were often controversial and they earned him both friends and foes.
Controversies and a murder case
In June 2017, Ravi was embroiled in a controversy after the Karnataka Assembly sentenced him to one year imprisonment for alleged “defamatory writings” against Congress MLA BM Nagaraj and BJP MLA SR Viswanath. Ravi and Anil Raju, editor of Yelahanka Voice, were sentenced to one year in prison and fined Rs 10,000 each by the then Karnataka Assembly Speaker KB Koliwad, a move that was criticised by many in the media. Both editors were found guilty of breach of privilege for publishing allegedly defamatory articles against legislators. Ravi prevented arrest by getting himself admitted to the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences in Hubballi. Later, both editors got relief from the Karnataka High Court.
Later that year, Ravi was arrested by Central Crime Branch in a separate incident for allegedly hiring a contract killer to murder a fellow journalist, Sunil Heggaravalli. The police said that they had found a double-barreled gun and 41 bullets, deer skin, 1.5x1.5 ft tortoise shell, and a revolver and 53 bullets. He spent many days at the Parappana Agrahara central jail In connection with the case.