Special Correspondent

CHICKBALLAPUR: A bandh was observed in Gauribidanur town of Chickballapur district on Tuesday to condemn the murder of Chella Krishnamurthy (60), a progressive farmer and green activist, who was hacked to death by a 20-member gang on Monday.

All the shops, business establishments and cinemas in the town remained closed, and a holiday was declared in the educational institutions. However, bus services were not affected.

Members of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, which had given the bandh call, and other Kannada and environmental groups staged a demonstration, seeking immediate arrest of the assailants.

Cremation

The body of Krishnamurthy was cremated at his Chella Farms on Idagur Road, in the outskirts of the town. Former MLAs N. Jyothi Reddy of the Janata Dal (Secular) and S.V. Ashwathnarayana Reddy of the Congress, and leaders of various organisations paid their last respects.

Krishnamurthy, a native of Andhra Pradesh who was promoting organic farming, was fighting against environment pollution that was allegedly being caused by the untreated molasses spent wash that was being let into the fields by a local distillery. Asked about the motive behind the murder, the police said that on Monday afternoon, Krishnamurthy had an argument with a few farmers at Marathipalya village, off Thondebavi, in Gauribidanur taluk. They were reportedly using the spent wash in their fields.

Immediately, rumours spread thick and fast in the town that one of the farmers was assaulted by Krishnamurthy at Marathipalya, and he died of injuries at a hospital.

Later, around 20 men, who came in two multi-utility vehicles, intercepted Krishnamurthy’s car near Hanumenahalli Gate and clubbed him to death.

Investigations revealed that Krishnamurthy had not assaulted any one though he had had heated exchanges with some farmers, the police said.

Arrest

The police have arrested Brahmappa (60), a resident of Gauribidanur town, in connection with the murder.

A special team has been formed to arrest the other accused, who are at large, the Gauribidanur Circle Police Inspector B.L. Sreenivasa Murthy said .

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