Staff Correspondent

They have been charged with involvement in murder, explosions

The gang was allegedly involved in a bomb blast in a Hubli court

An unsuccessful attempt was made to kill Satish Jarkiholi and Ramesh Jarkiholi

Belgaum: In a major breakthrough, the Bagalkot police arrested a gang, headed by Nagaraj Jambagi of Bilagi, allegedly involved in a bomb blast in a court in Hubli and in unsuccessful attempts to kill two Congress leaders from Belgaum district — former Minister Satish L. Jarkiholi, MLA, and his brother Ramesh L. Jarkiholi.

According to Inspector-General of Police (Northern Range), Raghavendra Auradkar, here on Sunday, the gang had planned to commit many such crimes with the intention to create fear psychosis among the rich and extract ransom. The police arrested Nagaraj Jambagi (24); Ramesh Bairuba Pawar (24) from Killa in Bagalkot; Basavaraj Hanamant Roogi (20), working as a salesman in Mangalore; Basavaraj Yamanappa Diggi (22) from Bagalkot; Lingaraj Gurunath Jalagar (24) from Navanagar in Bagalkot town; Manjunath Ambanna Binjawadagi (19) from Bagalkot; Deepak Parashuram Govindakar Kalal (28) from Bagalkot; Hanumant Arjun Sainsakali (22), an ITI student at Tamba in Indi taluk of Bijapur district, and Channabasappa Revansiddappa Hunasagi (35), an agriculturist from Indi.

Another accused identified as Laxman Irappa Bandiwaddar (25) of Navanagar was killed by his own gang members. The arrests of the accused were made between December 31, 2008, and January 9, 2009.

Mr. Auradkar said that the gang was involved in seven murders, three explosions, one of which was in a court in Hubli in May last year, one kidnapping and a motorcycle theft. The police seized Rs.11,08,250 in cash, gold and silver ornaments, two motorcycles, three mobile phone sets and two watches.

The police also seized two live bombs from Nagaraj’s room. He said the accused had executed a meticulously planned operation wherein they killed well-known industrialist Kiran Kumatgiri, his father and two others and looted over Rs.10 lakh in Bagalkot town on October 29 last year. A special squad that was set up verified nearly five lakh calls and succeeded in tracing 18 mobile numbers with the help of “CDR Analysis Software”. Further investigation led the police to the mobile phone numbers of Nagaraj, Basavaraj Roogi and Lingaraj Jalgar (which were used to make calls to Kiran). This led to the arrest of the above three.

Their interrogation led to the arrest of their associates.

During interrogation, Nagaraj said his plan was to form a gang to target people and secure ransom. The gang was planning to kidnap Naveen, son of V. Charantimath, MLA for Bagalkot; businessman Dinesh Barshi and Ravi Kodekar of Somanath Jewellers, Bagalkot; Airtel distributor Radhesham Chandak of Guledgudda; owner of Magi Traders in Ilkal; the owner of Hotel Haripriya, Hubli; and P.H. Pujar, former MLA for Bagalkot.

There was also a plan to kill police inspector Narayan Bharmani and sub-inspector M.S. Tulasigeri, presently in Kulgod, as the gang wanted to take revenge on them. Cases against the accused have been registered in different police stations in the State and in Maharashtra.

One of the major crimes the gang committed was the murder of Laxmi Narayan and his wife Leelavati in Bagalkot town on February 6, 2008.