Bengaluru: The editor of a leading Kannada tabloid, Ravi Belagere was today arrested for allegedly hiring a sharp shooter to kill his journalist colleague.
Belagere, who brings out ‘Hai Bangalore’, was picked up from his house here on charges that he had hired a ‘supari’ killer from Vijayapura in north Karnataka, known for illegal gun running, to kill Sunil Heggaravalli, the police said.
The police said they stumbled upon the alleged plot when alleged contract killer Shashidhar Mundewadi was being questioned in connection with the investigation into the killing of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead at her house by unidentified assailants here on September 5, evoking national outrage.
They said the sharp shooter with his accomplice had surveyed Heggaravalli thoroughly to execute his plan.
“During interrogation, Shashidhar Mundewadi said Belagere gave him ‘supari’ to kill Sunil Heggaravalli. Based on the inputs, we arrested Belagere and seized a pistol and a double barrel gun,” Satish Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), said.
Kumar said Belagere wanted to kill Heggaravalli for “personal reasons”.
An FIR has been registered at Subrahmanyapura police station, he said.
Police sources said Belagere and the contract killers have been booked under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
Weapons have also been recovered from them, they said.
Heggaravalli said he was shocked when he learnt that Belagere allegedly wanted to kill him.
“It is shocking that Belagere wanted to kill me. I am still associated with Hai Bangalore. I am not able to figure out why I was the target. Only he can explain the reason. He had spoken to me last night in a cordial manner. We were close to each other,” he said.
He claimed that Mundewadi had once come to his house on August 28 as a courier delivery boy as the CCTV footage showed.
Belagere was in the news recently after the Karnataka Assembly passed a resolution sentencing him and Anil Raju, editor of tabloid ‘Yelahanka Voice’, to one year jail term for their alleged defamatory articles against state legislators.
The Assembly, during its winter session at Belagavi on November 21, had rejected a motion seeking reconsideration of the punishment and a fine of Rs 10,000 each on them.
On a petition challenging the House decision, the Karnataka High Court two days ago directed the Assembly not to pursue with the proceedings until further orders.