AN ACTOR and hints of an extramarital relationship. An obsessive fan. And a murder. This may well have been a plot from one of Darshan Thoogudeepa’s action-thrillers. On Tuesday, the actor, among Kannada cinema’s reigning stars, and his friend Pavithra Gowda were arrested over the recent murder of a 33-year-old man in Bengaluru.

The victim has been identified as Renukaswamy, a resident of Chitradurga district and a fan of the actor.

Bengaluru City Police Commissioner B Dayananda said their investigations so far suggest Darshan was upset with Renukaswamy for allegedly sending “abusive comments and messages” to Pavithra on Instagram.

On June 9, police got a call from a locality near Summanahalli in Bengaluru after a security guard at an apartment complex spotted a body in a drain. While police registered a murder case and were making attempts to establish the identity of the victim, four men turned up at the Kamakshipalya police station claiming they had killed Renukaswamy at a shed near RR Nagar over a financial dispute.

As police established the identity of the victim, they pulled out his Call Details Records (CDR) and that of the men who surrendered. A police officer said, “It was initially all quite confusing. Renukaswamy was from Chitradurga and we were wondering why he had come to Bengaluru and why he had visited the shed near RR Nagar, which is 10 km from the place where the body was found. Eventually, our investigations and questioning of the accused revealed that Renukaswamy was abducted at the behest of Darshan and was killed in the shed.”

Festive offer

On the possible reason behind the surrender of some of the accused, a police source said the accused were probably trying to mislead them.

On Tuesday morning, a police team arrested Darshan from Mysuru as he was coming out of a gym. He was brought to Bengaluru for questioning and produced before the court with the other accused.

Darshan’s relationship with Pavithra has been a much discussed topic in the Kannada film industry and among his fans.

In January this year, the actor’s wife Vijayalakshmi and Pavithra were involved in a public spat on social media over Darshan. It started with Vijayalakshmi posting her picture with her husband and son on Instagram. Hours later, Pavithra posted a video with a collage featuring photographs of her with Darshan and her daughter, with the caption: “One decade down; forever to go… It has been 10 years of our relationship.”

Vijayalakshmi responded angrily, posting photographs of Pavithra with her daughter and husband and threatening to take legal action against her.

Darshan, who has acted in nearly 50 Kannada movies and goes by the name ‘Box Office Sultan’ for his string of hits, has a massive fan base in Karnataka. Many of his fans were reportedly upset with Pavithra for her alleged relationship with Darshan.

Police say Renukaswamy was a fan of Darshan and had allegedly sent lewd comments and abusive messages to Pavithra on Instagram.

They say that when Darshan got to know of the messages, he trawled Renukaswamy’s social media and found that he was from Chitradurga, over 200 km away. Darshan then allegedly got in touch with Raghavendra, who heads a Darshan fan club in the same town, and told him to get Renukaswamy to Bengaluru. Raghavendra is among the

accused in the case.

Police say that on June 8, Raghavendra met Renukaswamy and took him to Bengaluru in his car. In Bengaluru, he was taken to a shed in the RR Nagar area that served as a parking area for vehicles seized by banks. It was here that Renukaswamy was allegedly assaulted. He later died of his injuries. The accused then allegedly dumped the body in a drain near Summanahalli.

According to the police, Darshan and Pavithra were present at the shed when Renukaswamy was brought there and assaulted.

Commissioner Dayananda said, “Technical investigations and the CCTV footage helped to crack the case.”

In Chitradurga, a neighbor of the victim said Renukaswamy was last seen on June 8, when he left home for work. Police suspect Renukaswamy was murdered later in the day.

“On June 8, Renukaswamy’s mother called him on the phone to ask him to come home for lunch. He told her that he would be eating with his friends. The family came to know about the death only when the police called them on the morning of June 10,” said the neighbor, adding Renukaswamy married only last year.

On Tuesday, as Darshan was produced in court, a large group of his fans waited outside, claiming he was innocent. He was remanded in police custody for six days.