Guttedar murder turns out to be a Gordian's knot

MANY OF the sensational and gruesome murders that have taken place in the City in the past one-and-a-half-years have not been solved. The latest to join this long list is the killing of Ashok Rukmayya Guttedar, a leading excise contractor from Gulbarga.

More than a month has passed since Ashok Guttedar was found murdered with a bullet injury at his father-in-law's house in Mahalakshmi Layout police station limits.

So far, police have neither established the motive behind the murder nor arrested the culprits who shot Ashok Guttedar, the half-brother of Aland MLA, Subash R. Guttedar.

Was Ashok murdered by his rival excise contractors or his financiers, to whom he owed money, or his political adversaries? Or, has his murder anything to do with the serial supari killings that took place a few years ago in Gulbarga District and the neighbouring Sholapur District of Maharashtra? In the absence of definite clues, police are probing the murder from all these angles.

As names of Ashok Guttedar, Subash Guttedar, and their relative, Malikayya Guttedar, the Afzalpur MLA and a former minister, were heard in connection with the supari killings, a police team from Bangalore interrogated some of the supari killers.

Secondly, it is said that Ashok Guttedar had caused loss worth crores of rupees to other excise contractors from Gulbarga District by bidding higher prices at excise auctions. As it was a prestige issue, the rival contractors had paid higher amounts and got excise contracts, thus incurring losses, police say.

Incidentally, Ashok Guttedar was murdered a day before he was to participate in an excise auction in Bangalore. He is said to have sought a loan of Rs. 50 lakh from a financier. Police suspect that rival contractors, who too were financed by the same person, had prevailed upon the financier not to lend money to Ashok Guttedar.

Thirdly, as Ashok Guttedar had reportedly worked against Subash Guttedar and Malikayya Guttedar during the last Assembly elections, police do not rule out a political angle to the murder. The strained relationship between Ashok Guttedar and the Guttedar MLAs is no secret in Gulbarga District where the Guttedars' writ runs.

It is also said that Ashok Guttedar had taken huge amounts from his financiers and had not repaid the loans. Instead, he was alleged to have dodged them by adopting strong-arm tactics.

Meanwhile, the circumstances in which Ashok Guttedar was murdered have also left many questions unanswered. Though he was shot at, nobody in his house heard the gun shot. On sustained interrogation, a relative told the police that she heard some sound and she thought that a tyre of some passing vehicle must have burst.

Secondly, police are wondering how the assailant made good his escape when Ashok Guttedar's relatives were very much at home when the incident occurred.

On the other hand, the investigation has been hit to some extent as three of the assistant commissioners of police probing the case have been transferred.

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