Police probing Mangaluru underworld connection in murder of bar owner

The 41-year-old victim was shot and then hacked to death off Brigade Road on Thursday night

The murder of bar owner Manish alias Sarvottam Shetty, 41, who was shot and then hacked to death by assailants off Brigade Road on Thursday night, seems to have been the fallout of gang rivalries within the Mangaluru underworld, the police probe has revealed.

“The murder has all the hallmarks of an underworld hit job. The assailants dropped their weapons and abandoned their bike before fleeing from the scene,” a senior officer said.

The police have recovered the bike and two firearms used for the murder. “We have high-quality CCTV footage of the crime scene,” the officer said.

Underworld operative Vicky Shetty, who hails from Mangaluru and is now believed to be based in Dubai in the UAE, reportedly called up a Kannada news channel to own up to the murder. “We have information that Vicky made an internet call to a channel and claimed to have carried out the hit to settle an old rivalry. We are verifying these claim, and also whether the caller was really Vicky,” a senior police officer said.

Manish, who is from Koppa in Chikkamagaluru district, was named in over 12 cases, including murder and robbery. He was known to be close to another underworld operative from the coast, Bannanje Raja, who was recently arrested by the State police. Manish was a partner in Duet Bar on Rest House Road.

Preliminary investigations indicated that he was killed as revenge for the murder of a businessman, Kishan Hegde, police sources said. Hegde was killed on September 24 in Hiriyadka, Udupi district.

“Kishan was killed over a monetary dispute, and the murder was allegedly financed by Manish,” a senior official probing the case said.

However, the Udupi police’s investigation had neither uncovered underworld links to Kishan nor Manish’s role in his murder.

“But, these are the leads we have picked up. These need to be verified,” the officer said.

The city police are close to identifying the assailants, sources said. “We have information that three assailants were involved. They seem to be underworld operatives from the coastal region,” sources said.

Murder raises concern

The shootout in the heart of the city, off Brigade Road, has raised concerns in the police establishment about the growing brazenness of the underworld. Police Commissioner Kamal Pant said such activities will not be tolerated and stringent action will be taken.

Another senior official pointed out that Bannanje Raja and Ravi Pujari, who were hiding abroad, have recently been brought to India and it was time the city police concentrated their efforts on Vicky Shetty. “The recent global economic crisis due to the pandemic has led to monetary disputes in the underworld. The murders of Kishan Hegde and Manish seem to be a fallout of one such dispute,” said the official.

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Sagar Biswas

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