Actor Darshan Thoogudeepa held for murder of fan who sent ‘abusive’ messages to his friend | Bangalore News

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 that 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.”

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On the possible reason behind the surrender of some of the accused, a police source said the accused were probably trying to mislead them and that they did not think their mobile phones would be checked.

On Tuesday morning, a team of police officials arrested Darshan from Mysuru just 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 began 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 neighbour 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 neighbour, 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 has been remanded in police custody for six days.

Darshan has found himself in several controversies over the years. In 2011, he spent time in jail after his wife accused him of assaulting her. However, the marital discord was apparently settled after Darshan issued a public apology.

In 2021, Kannada film producer Bharat lodged a complaint against Darshan for threatening him. In January 2023, the forest department raided Darshan’s farmhouse in Mysuru, seized four bar-headed geese and other migratory birds and booked him under sections of the Wildlife Protection Act.

In January this year, Darshan was accused of flouting the 1 am deadline while partying at a pub in Bengaluru with other artists.

Son of veteran Kannada film actor Thoogudeepa Srinivas, Darshan started off as a light boy before working as an assistant for veteran cinematographer B C Gowrishankar. After making his acting debut in a TV serial, Darshan acted in supporting roles in movies. His major breakthrough as a hero came in 2001 with the movie Majestic. By 2011, he was an established actor with a massive fan base. He has also been a voice actor for Kannada animation shows.


 

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