A Murder on Brigade Road: Bengaluru Pub-owner Killed in Suspected Gang Rivalry
They lay in wait, knowing he would come in his chauffeur-driven Fortuner car around 9 pm. They waited at a 'paan' shop biding their time, watching, as he got off and the chauffeur took the car away to the parking lot. The attack was quick, a single shot from behind, not leaving much for any second guesses. They fled, three on a bike, before people around could react.
Bombay style gang-rivalry and executions of the 90s came visiting Bengaluru's main street late Thursday night, when 45-year-old Manish Shetty was killed just off the city's famed Brigade Road.
Shetty was outside the Duet pub that he owned, when he was attacked by three assailants in an apparent murder for revenge. The assailants then stuck him with a machete as well, after firing a shot from a single-barrel gun. Seconds later, they fled on the bike, throwing away the gun less than a quarter kilometre away as they made their escape... a little away, they abandoned the bike as well, making their way to a waiting autorickshaw on Residency Road.
From preliminary investigations, Shetty, a man accused in at least six cases over the last decade and more, seems to have had close links with underworld don Ravi Pujari. Pujari is a gangster who was extradited to India earlier this year for heinous crimes. One police officer recalls that Shetty was involved allegedly in a jewellery heist in 2006 at the well-known Chemmanur Jewellers outlet. In another case, he was listed as A2 (accused #2), while Pujari was A4.
He managed to get acquitted in some cases, while other trials are pending.
"Another underworld element, Kishan Hegde was killed in Udupi about 15 days back. Shetty seems to have given the 'supari' for that. This looks like a killing to avenge that," said a senior officer aware of the probe.
So is this a precursor of times to come? Gang rivalries where one side eliminates the other? "We hope not. We hope it is a one-off incident," says the officer cautiously, aware that if that was the case, then we could see more gore on the streets in this eye-for-an-eye.
Bars have been shut for almost six months, and business has been down, leading to financial troubles for bar-owners as well. So financial losses, the ripple effect on creditors, others demanding money, could be other reasons.
As of now, the police have recovered the gun and the bike, apart from helmets and some clothing discarded by the assailants.
Since it is a busy area in the central business district, almost all shops had CCTVs outside, giving the police some substantial help. But so far they have been unable to make out the number plate of the auto-rickshaw, though deeper image analysis is happening.
"Nine teams have been formed, looking at the gravity and magnitude of the murder," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Bengaluru Central) MN Anuchet to newspersons. "We have eye-witness accounts as well, and while gang rivalry is one strong lead we have, we are looking at it from all angles," Anuchet added.