BENGALURU: They are ready to pull the trigger or wield a knife for as little as Rs 10,000.
“We have seen a number of people taking up contract killings for as little as Rs 10,000 or Rs 15,000. Some of them have even killed for a mobile handset or a T-shirt. It’s about survival and a hi-fi lifestyle, where human life doesn’t count,” said Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao.
The profile of Bengaluru’s contract killers is varied -_ a woman construction labourer, a history-sheeter, a job-seeker, a college student looking to lead a hi-fi life.
The recent killing of former vice-chancellor of a private university by supari killers for Rs 20 lakh each, has been added to the list of over 30 contract killing cases taken up by the city police in 2018 and 2019.
Retired police officers said there were supari killers like Silent Sunila and his gang, who a decade ago took up supari to kill notorious gangster Bekkinakannu Rajendra.
“They were all professional killers who would plot and kill. They knew how to escape too, and would not reveal who they killed for, even after being nabbed. The amounts given to them were also huge,” explained B B Ashok Kumar, a retired super-cop. He said that nowadays, some are first-time offenders with dreams of becoming rich overnight.
Unfortunately, the police do not have separate files for contract killings, which makes it difficult to map the change in rates, modus operandi, or weapons used.
Deputy Superintendent of Police S K Umesh, who has solved several contract killing cases, said, “Bengaluru does not have organised contract-killing gangs like in Mumbai or Hyderabad, but the number of supari murders here is high. Petty criminals are willing to kill for as little as Rs 10,000.”
He recalled a murder case in Yelahanka where the assailants had killed someone for a new mobile phone and a new pair of jeans.
Police chief Bhaskar Rao said that technology has helped them solve many such killings.
“Contract killers are professionals. But many first-timers indulging in such crimes shows degeneration in social values and they are not smart enough to cheat technology,” he added.
The stricter arms act and tracking of mobile phone records and CCTV cameras, has tightened the noose and it is difficult for contract killers to escape, the top cop said.
HOTBED OF CONTRACT KILLERS
Most supari killers are from Rajagopalnagar, Basaveshwarnagar or Kamakshipalya, according to a senior police officer.
“They go with the ‘batsman’ (actual hitman) but do not know who they are targeting and are ready to go to jail,” said an officer on condition of anonymity.
He said that if there were two vehicles which go to the spot, the man in the first would wield the weapon and escape after the ‘job’ is done.
“The boys in the second vehicle later confess to the crime and get booked by the officers who are more interested in solving the case within 24 hours of the crime. They don’t get into details about who hired them or how much was paid, leaving the case hanging. The accomplices don’t get convicted while the original killer is still at large,” he said.