Cow vigilantism-accused on the run posts video attacking opposition leaders

No external injuries on the body of the deceased Idrees Pasha, police claim

Updated - April 04, 2023 09:00 pm IST

Published - April 04, 2023 08:59 pm IST - Bengaluru

Punith Kerehalli

Punith Kerehalli

Pressure is mounting on the police to nab Puneeth Kerehalli, now accused of murder in an act of cow vigilantism in Kanakapura on Saturday (April 1), even as he is still at large and posted a video on his social media handles on Tuesday (April 4) taking on two former Chief Ministers Siddaramaiah and H.D. Kumaraswamy, who had criticised the government over the incident.

In a 14-minute long video, Mr. Kerehalli denied that he or his associates killed Idrees Pasha and said the fact that he was live on Facebook and at the police station, helping them transport the illegally herded cattle to a religious mutt, was proof that he was not involved. Coming down heavily on Mr. Siddaramaiah and Mr. Kumaraswamy at length, he accused them of being in collusion with “cow killers”.

‘Is he sheltered?’

The video has drawn the ire of opposition Congress and JD(S) alike. Karnataka Congress and JD(S) posed questions on Twitter to Home Minister Araga Janendra, asking him if the accused was being “sheltered”, given that a murder accused was doing videos threatening two Opposition leaders.

“Because BJP Karnataka has been supporting criminals, the State has become jungle raj today,” JD(S) tweeted. “How does a murder accused have the audacity to threaten opposition leaders? Is the Home Minister protecting him?” Congress tweeted. 

B.R. Ravikanthe Gowda, IGP, Central Range, said they had formed four special teams and all efforts were on to nab the accused and his associates. “We have leads, and we will soon apprehend them,” he said. In the video message he posted, Kerehalli said he had been touring several temples and that he would present himself before the police for investigation.

Idrees Pasha

Idrees Pasha

‘No antemortem wounds’

Meanwhile, contradicting the deceased Idrees Pasha’s family member’s claims that they had seen several “burn-like wounds” on the arms and head of the deceased, senior police officials who did not wish to be named said that there were no wounds on the body.

“Doctors who conducted autopsy have said there are no antemortem wounds and some of the wounds they have recorded as postmortem wounds may have been caused because the body was found in a prostrating position in shrubs,” a senior official said.

Mr. Gowda said the autopsy report was awaited, and he would not comment on the cause of the death till the report was submitted to them. “We got a team of three senior doctors to conduct the autopsy at Kanakapura Government Hospital. The doctors have sent the viscera sample to the Forensic Science Laboratory. After a report is submitted, we will know what caused Mr. Pasha’s death,” he said.

Where is Irfan?

Three individuals — Irfan, who owns the vehicle that was transporting cattle, and two of his employees, Idrees Pasha and Syed Zaheer — left Maddur after they bought cattle from a fair on Friday evening. They were intercepted by Puneeth Kerehalli and his associates at Sathanur past midnight, prompting all three of them to flee from the spot. Syed Zaheer was later caught and handed over to Sathanur police by Kerehalli, and hours later, Idrees Pasha was found dead.

However, the whereabouts of the vehicle owner Irfan, who could possibly be an eyewitness to the alleged attack, still remain a mystery. Police said he was missing but added that their focus now was to catch the accused.

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