The Karnataka Police on Wednesday arrested cow vigilante Puneeth Kerehalli and four of his aides from Rajasthan after they were accused of killing a Muslim man last week on suspicion of cattle theft.
The murder took place in Karnataka’s Ramanagara district on March 31 when Idrees Pasha and his two associates – Syed Zaheer and Irfan – were coming from Mandya, which is located about 50 kilometres away. Kerehalli and his aides intercepted their vehicle and accused them of trafficking cattle to an abattoir in the neighbouring state of Goa.
The vigilantes allegedly assaulted and abused the Muslim men even as they showed documents to prove that they had bought the cattle at a local market. Kerehalli and his men allegedly demanded Rs 2 lakh to let them go.
When Pasha and Irfan objected, they were chased and beaten up, while Zaheer and Kerehalli were brought to a police station after a constable intervened. Pasha was later found dead by the police.
The accused had been on the run after Pasha’s murder caused outrage.
Ramanagara Superintendent of Police Karthik Reddy on Wednesday said that Kerehalli and the four other accused persons – Gopi, Pawan Kumar, Suresh Kumar and Pilling Ambigar – were arrested from Rajasthan’s Banswara.
They have been booked on charges of murder, assault, criminal intimidation, wrongful restraint and an intentional insult to provoke a breach of peace.
All the accused persons are said to be associated with an organisation called the “Rashtra Rakshana Pade” (Nation Protection Army), run by Kerehalli. In the past, Kerehalli has organised campaigns against halal meat and for banning Muslim traders from Hindu temple fairs.