A CBI official here said that the agency filed a supplementary charge sheet against Kulkarni, who is a former MLA from Dharwad, his relative Chandrashekhar Indi and Shivananand Birdar.
The official said that during probe the alleged role of three persons in the conspiracy was revealed. He said that all three of them are presently in judicial custody.
The official said, “It was alleged that the Kulkarni had personal enmity and political rivalry with Gowda, who had declined the request to step back from contesting the Zilla Panchayath (ZP) election in 2016.”
“Investigations revealed that Kulkarni allegedly conspired with his close associates and in pursuance thereof, one of his associates agreed to execute the murder,” he said.
The official also said that a land deal was entered by the accused and a purported land dispute was portrayed as a motive for the murder. The CBI has recovered three country-made pistols, which were allegedly used in the crime.
CBI investigation revealed that an associate of the said accused arranged another accused from Bangalore and they visited Dharward on two occasions. They allegedly committed the murder on the second attempt and fled after the commission of crime.
Gowda, a Zila Panchayat member, was murdered on June 15, 2016 in a gym in Saptapur in Karnataka’s Dharwad. The agency took over the probe on the recommendation of the Karnataka government on September 24, 2019.
In June last year, the CBI had examined Pandu Rangrane (the then retired Commissioner Hubli, Dharwad), Jinendra Khanagavi (the then DCP Dharwad and presently SP Security Division Bengaluru), and Mallikarjun Baladandi (the then DCP Crime and Traffic Dharwad and presently Additional SP Haveri).
The CBI has earlier identified and arrested eight other accused — Santosh Savadatti, Dinesh M, Sunil K S, Harshith, Aswath S, Nazeer Ahamad, Shanawaz, Nutan K S — and also filed a charge-sheet on May 20 last year.
The Karnataka Police which has registered the case earlier, has also charge sheeted six persons in the case in September 2016 — Basavaraj Muttagi, Vikram Ballari, Keerthi Kumar, Sandeep Savadatti, Vinayak Katagi, and Mahabaleshwar Hongal alias Mudaka — all residents of Dharwad.
According to the CBI, Gowda ran a gym in Dharwad and was a friend of Basavaraj Shivappa Muttagi, the prime accused, for the last 10 years, both with different political inclinations. Gowda came to know about a land purchase deal by Muttagi. As per the CBI, Gowda had threatened Muttagi that he should not purchase the land as it was under his custody and if he still proceeded, he would kill him.
Gowda was, however, killed in his gym by accomplices of Muttagi, who first sprinkled chilli powder on his face before hacking him to death.
-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)