The Karnataka police have arrested three men from a family for murdering a 19-year-old boy over an intercaste relationship in Vijayapura district, said police.

The boy was killed after the trio made him drink poison and his dead body, stuffed inside a gunny bag, was thrown into the Krishna river.

The murder was in retaliation to the girl’s suicide, said police. Minutes before the murder, the father spotted the couple on the family’s farm. The 17-year-old panicked seeing her father confused about poison kept in a storeroom and died on the spot.

Vijayapura superintendent of police (SP) Ananda Kumar told HT that police have recovered the body of the boy, while the search for the girl is underway. “The incident took place in Hadarihal village. Both families were aware of their relationship and opposed it. In the past, the girl’s family had threatened the boy, who belonged to an oppressed class, to stay away from her. Even then they continued to be in a relationship,” the officer said.

The names of the victims have been withheld by the police.

According to police, the boy finished his pre-university degree and was to join graduation. The boy met the girl while studying in Tikota taluk in the district around two years ago. When both families came to know about this, the boy’s family sent him to Banahatti in Bagalkote district, around 80km from Vijayapura, to prepare for the defence service entrance examination. However, both of them continued their relationship.

The Bilagi police, who are probing the case, said that on September 17, the boy came to his home town to appear for an examination. Following this, on September 23, the boy went missing. The boy’s parents then filed a missing complaint with the police in their home town. Soon after the girl’s parents also filed a complaint claiming the girl had gone missing.

Police began the investigation on the suspicion that the couple had eloped, however, the boy’s body was stuffed in a gunny bag in Krishna river in Bilagi village around 70 km away. Bilagi police circle inspector and investigating officer, Sivananda Sangamesh told HT following an investigation, police arrested the girl’s father and uncle in connection with the case (their names are withheld to protect the minor’s identity). The police are on the lookout for the girl’s grandfather, who was part of the murder as well.

During the interrogation, the suspects confessed to the crime. The girl and boy were seen by the girl’s father on the morning of September 24 in his grape estate. “They claimed that they found the boy and girl in an intimate position. The father was aggravated by this and there was a commotion. The girl panicked and consumed pesticides. The boy who was in shock and was caught by the three men and made to drink the same poison. Once they confirmed he was dead, they stuffed both bodies in gunny bags and threw them in the river. Later to avoid suspicion, they lodged a missing complaint,” said SP Kumar.

To be sure, a confession or disclosure statement of any person made before a police officer is not admissible as evidence before a court unless it is backed by other evidence. Only a confession before a judge is admissible as evidence against an accused.

Police have called in swimming experts to locate her body however they are facing difficulties in extracting the body. “First of all, we are unclear how the bodies might have gone. Secondly, there are crocodiles in some parts of the river which makes the search difficult. But based on the confession, we have registered a murder case and both accused have been remanded to judicial custody,” Kumar added.

(With inputs from Arun Dev)

By Shadab

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