Life term for don Bannanje Raja, 3 others in K’taka shootout case

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A special KCOCA court on Monday awarded life imprisonment to international gangster and underworld don Bannanje Raja, known as ‘threat king’, and three other accused persons in connection with the sensational shootout case of BJP leader and industrialist R.N. Nayak.

The accused were pronounced guilty earlier by the special court.

Along with Bannanje Raja, the court has convicted Jagadish Patel, the prime accused in the case from Uttar Pradesh, Abhi Bhandagar from Bengaluru and Ganesh Bhajanthri from Udupi for life imprisonment.

Bannanje Raja is the ninth accused in the case. He is involved in several serious criminal cases in Bengaluru, coastal districts of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Special Court judge C.M. Joshi had pronounced the order. The court acquitted the sixth accused Rabdin Pichai, 11th accused Mohammad Shabandri, a resident of Bengaluru and 16th accused Anand Ramesh Nayak from Uttara Kannada in the case.

The second accused Jagadish Patel is from Uttar Pradesh, third accused Abhi Bhandagara from Bengaluru, Ganesh Bhajanthri from Udupi, K.M. Ismail from Kerala, Mahesh Achangi from Hassan, M.B. Santhosh from Kerala, Jagadish Chandraraj from Bengaluru, Ankit Kumar Kashyap from Uttar Pradesh.

The shootout had taken place on December 21, 2013 in Ankola of Uttara Kannada district. The police department had lodged the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) against the accused and this was the first case registered under the Act in the state.

Special Public Prosecutor S.B. Puranik Math and Additional Public Prosecutor Shivaprasad Alva argued against the accused. Shivaprasad Alva had stated that through the judgment the court has sent a good message to the society. The police and prosecution have successfully persuaded the legal action against the anti-social elements.

When asked about whether he faced any threats since the case involved gangster Bannanje Raja, he stated that there was no room for it as he had to deliver the responsibilities given by the government. “This judgment shows that no one is above the law. The law takes its own course. If police and prosecution join hands and pursue the case unitedly, legal action against any criminal element is ensured,” he said.

Bannanje Raja had made an extortion call demanding protection money from the deceased Nayak. When he refused to pay the money, the accused got him killed.

Furthermore, Raja had called up media houses from a foreign location and claimed that he had got the murder carried out, severely embarrassing the state and central investigation agencies. Various judges heard the case for over seven years. More than 210 witnesses recorded their statements and prosecutors produced 1,000 pages of documentary proof.

The police had filed a charge sheet in 2013 against 16 accused persons who were associates and sharp shooters working for Bannanje Raja.

Rajendra Shetty a.k.a Bannanje Raja is involved in 44 serious criminal offences, including murder, extortion and kidnapping. Authorities had issued an Interpol Red Corner notice against him. He was nabbed in Casablanca of Morocco and was later extradited to Karnataka.

Raja is an arts graduate and worked as a bus agent in Udupi and Bengaluru. He soon started calling businessmen for ransom and as his crime graph grew he went to Dubai and later settled in Morocco.

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