The panchayat member of Hasigala village in Bengaluru Rural allegedly threatened to kill her employees after an altercation about fuel.

Manjunath Gowda, the accused in the Col Jojan Thomas Memorial Service Station assault case. He is wearing a pink shirt and a light green face mask and looking directly at the camera.Bengaluru Rural Police
news Crime Sunday, October 25, 2020 - 17:14

The family of a martyred soldier, late Colonel Jojan Thomas, who died fighting in Jammu and Kashmir, was harassed and threatened by a panchayat member in Bengaluru rural on Friday. Manjunath Gowda, a member of the Hasigala gram panchayat located in Bengaluru Rural, allegedly hired goons who assaulted and threatened employees of a petrol pump owned by the late Col Jojan Thomas’ wife. Manjunath Gowda was arrested on Saturday and booked for attempt to murder, assault and criminal intimidation. 

On October 23, Manjunath Gowda, who bought a new mini lorry, took his vehicle to the petrol pump. “He filled up the tank of his mini lorry. It was 186 litres in total. He began arguing that his fuel tank capacity is 180 litres only,” Beena Thomas, owner of the petrol pump, told TNM. 

Beena said that Manjunath Gowda hurled accusations at the petrol pump manager Sajish that he was being duped. Manjunath Gowda allegedly called 15-20 of his supporters to the petrol pump, who allegedly assaulted Sajish, the supervisor and two other employees. “They beat my manager. They were not letting my employees out of the petrol station. They got two big trucks and parked it at the entrance and exit (of the petrol pump),” Beena said. Manjunath Gowda allegedly disconnected the CCTV footage and also shut off electricity at the petrol pump. 

Manjunath Gowda allegedly began telling customers, who were arriving at the station that Beena Thomas and the employees of the petrol pump were duping customers. “I was going to Kerala and had to return to Hasigala when my manager told me what was happening. Manjunath told customers that we were stealing money,” she added.

Screeshot from the CCTV footage of Manjunath Gowda's men assaulting the petrol pump staff 

When Beena reached the petrol station on the evening of October 23, Manjunath Gowda allegedly “disregarded her late husband’s contribution to the country” and threatened to vandalise late Col Jojan Thomas’ statue, located in Hasigala. “He said, ‘We will break the statue.’ My husband was awarded the Ashoka Chakra for his service. Manjunath Gowda said, ‘what is Ashok Chakra? It's like the wheel of a car’ Beena alleged. 

Late Col Jojan Thomas, was martyred in Machchal Sector in Kupwara on August 22, 2008. As a tribute to his service, the Karnataka government had installed his statue in Hasigala village and given Beena Thomas ownership of the petrol station four years ago. 

On Saturday, Meghana Thomas, Beena’s daughter tweeted to the Director General and Inspector General of Police Praveen Sood, about the incident. She stated that Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd and the officials of the Department of Weights and Measures conducted an inspection and found that the quantity and quality of the fuel was at par and that the petrol station’s fuel dispensers were not rigged. 

“Mr Manjunath and his goons have not only tried to defame my mother but also caused a lot of mental harassment to her,” her tweet reads. The Sulibele police in Bengaluru Rural district arrested Manjunath Gowda on Saturday evening and produced him before the local magistrate. He was sent to judicial custody. And FIR has been registered against Manjunath Gowda and others at the Sulibele Police Station under sections 307 (attempt to murder),341 (wrongful restraint), 448 (tresspass), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace), and 506 (criminial intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.