The Karnataka High Court has granted bail to cow vigilante Puneeth Kerehalli and four others who were arrested last month in connection with the murder of a Muslim man, reported PTI on Wednesday.

Kerehalli and his aides were arrested on April 5 a week after they allegedly killed the Muslim man on suspicion of cow 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 had 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 aides had 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.

Kerehalli and his aides were booked on charges of murder, assault, criminal intimidation, wrongful restraint and intentional insult to provoke 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.

A trial court had denied them bail, following which they moved the High Court.