Ten persons, including leader of fringe Hindu right-wing group, arrested for murder of Muslim youth in Belagavi

Published : October 09, 2021 11:45 IST

Nazeema Sheikh, mother of Arbaz Mulla, speaking to media persons in Belagavi. Photo: The Hindu Archives

Ten persons including Pundalik “Maharaj” Mutagekar, leader of a fringe Hindu right-wing organisation known as the Sri Ram Sena-Hindustan (SRS-H), were arrested on October 8 by the Belagavi district police for the murder of Arbaz Mulla (25), who was in a relationship with a Hindu girl. The girl’s parents, Eerappa Kumbar and Susheela Eerappa Kumbar, were also among those arrested. “The conspiracy to murder Arbaz Mulla was unravelled when the primary accused Mutagekar was interrogated,” said Lakshman Nimbaragi, Superintendent of Police, Belagavi district.

Mulla’s decapitated body was found strewn along railway tracks near Khanapur town of Belagavi district on September 28. His mother Nazeema Sheikh, an Urdu school teacher, had alleged in her complaint that her son was murdered by Mutagekar because of his relationship with a Hindu girl. The girl’s parents were also named in her complaint. In interviews, members of the SRS-H have made it clear that they are against interfaith relationships, or what they describe as “love jihad”.

The relationship between Mulla and the Kumbars’ daughter developed over two years in Khanapur. When the Kumbar family found out about the relationship, Mulla was warned not to proceed with the relationship. Nazeema Sheikh and Mulla had even met Mutagekar along with the girl’s parents. According to investigating officials, Eerappa Kumbar and Susheela Kumbar were concerned that if their daughter married a Muslim man, they would be humiliated in their community. “They approached Mutagekar, who is the president of the Khanapur branch of the SRS-H and agreed to give him a ‘supari’ [fee] of Rs.5 lakh, of which Rs.50,000 was paid as advance for the murder of Mulla,” investigating officials said.