“Cow vigilante” Punith Kerehalli alias Punith Kumar, who was arrested under the Goonda Act on Saturday, has been sent to judicial custody and his case will be reviewed by an advisory board before the detention is approved or disapproved by the state home department.
Kerehalli was arrested by the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch (CCB) police on the basis of an approval by Bengaluru Police Commissioner B Dayananda following a recommendation by the CCB police.
Dayananda approved the declaration of Kerehalli as a “goonda” under the Karnataka Goonda Act, 1985 for his alleged involvement in crimes over the last 10 years as an activist of self-styled right wing outfit Rashtra Rakshana Pade, on August 11. Kerehalli was arrested on August 12, the CCB police said in a statement.
The Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug offenders, Gamblers, Goondas, (Immoral Traffic Offenders, Slum grabbers and video or audio pirates) Act, 1985, known as the Goonda Act, allows the “detention of persons who are engaged in committing or abetting the commission of offences against public tranquillity”. The detention can be for a maximum period of one year, but without any provision for bail.
The Bengaluru police had earlier issued a notice to Kerehalli, 35, in June this year for inclusion of his name in the list of persons designated as “rowdies” in Karnataka on account of his alleged involvement in six crimes in the state since 2021, including murder, assault and criminal intimidation.
Kerehalli was most recently accused in the case of the death of a cattle transporter, Idrees Pasha, 39, who was allegedly attacked in the Ramanagara region bordering Bengaluru by Kerehalli and his associates on the intervening night of March 31 and April 1.
A preliminary probe revealed that Pasha died due to cardiac arrest. However, the police suspect that the accused may have used a stun gun to neutralise Pasha, which might have led to the cardiac arrest. Kerehalli was granted bail by the Karnataka HC in May based on an autopsy report that suggested a heart attack death.
In another case of cow vigilantism, Kerehalli is accused of stopping transporter Aleemulla Baig with accusations of illegal cattle transport in the Electronic City police limits of Bengaluru on March 20. A case was filed by the victim after Pasha’s death. Kerehalli and his associates allegedly beat up Baig and the driver and used a stun gun to administer electric shocks.