A Hindu seer brutally murdered in Bengaluru, Karnataka
The victim, Phanindra Subramanyam, is not a Hindu seer, but the MD of a Bengaluru firm; business rivalry said to be most likely motive behind the double murder
Several social media users are sharing a purported photo of Phanindra Subramanyam, the MD of Aironics Media Private Limited, who was brutally murdered along with his CEO in Bengaluru, with the claim that one more Hindu seer and leader was killed in the state.
Several verified accounts, including Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar and BJP national secretary Sunil Deodhar, have tweeted and re-tweeted the claim, taking aim at the present Congress government in Karnataka by alleging that the state has become a safe haven for “anti-Hindu” elements. The Congress had won a hotly contested election in the state in May this year.
Newschecker ran a keyword search for “Phanindra Subramanyam murder”, which led us to multiple news reports about the double murder.
“The managing director (MD) and the chief executive officer (CEO) of a newly established company providing broadband internet services were murdered in their office, allegedly by three men, in Amrutahalli, off Ballari Road, in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Police suspect business rivalry as the motive behind the murder,” read a Times of India report, dated July 12, 2023, quoting DCP (North East) Laxmi Prasad, who said, “Phanindra Subramanyam, 36, and Vinu Kumar, 40, MD and CEO, respectively, of Aironics Media Private Limited, were hacked to death by a former colleague and his two associates inside their office.”
Prasad confirmed the same to Newschecker, saying, “Three assailants — Shabarish, Santhosh, Vinay Reddy — were arrested by 11pm from Kunigal. The accused used to work with the victims at Gnet (another broadband service provider in Bannerghatta road). They entered the building along with Phaneendra under the pretext of wanting to shift to Aironics and 15 minutes into the meeting, they carried out the attack.”
A Deccan Herald report, dated July 13, stated that the Bengaluru police arrested one Arun Kumar Azad, the suspected mastermind and the fourth arrest in the case, who is alleged to have hired three men, including Kannada rapper and Instagram influencer Shabarish alias ‘Joker’ Felix, to eliminate Phanindra Subramanyam, the managing director of rival fiber net company Aironics Media Pvt Ltd.
The business rivalry between Aironics and fiber net company Gnet Broadband, owned by Azad, is reported to be behind the cold-blooded murders, according to the Deccan Herald report. “Subramanyam and Vinu Kumar previously worked for Gnet but left it to found their own company, Aironics Media Pvt Ltd. They nearly hired all of their staff from Gnet and offered cheap broadband plans, eating into Gnet’s business. Arun Kumar became furious and threatened to get Subramanyam killed. He entrusted the job to Felix, one of his employees, and two others (Santhosh Kumar alias Santu and Vinay Reddy), according to police sources,” read the report.
A “well-placed” source in the Bengaluru police reportedly told News9 that business rivalry was the likely motive. None of the media outlets mentioned any communal angle to the murder.
“Bengaluru police have registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Arun Kumar Azad, the owner of internet service provider (ISP) firm GNet, in connection with the double murder of the CEO and MD of Aeronics Media Private Limited on Tuesday, July 11. The victims were Vinu Kumar, the CEO, and Phanindra Subramanya, the MD of the tech firm. The complaint filed by a staff member of Aeronics indicated that the killings were driven by business rivalry,” read a The News Minute article, dated July 13, 2023, stating that DCP Laxmi Prasad revealed that the motive behind the murders was a longstanding rivalry linked to the victims’ previous association with Arun.
“According to police, the accused had a rivalry with the CEO and the MD of the Bengaluru firm. They used to work in their previous company, police earlier told India Today. They had resigned from their previous company, and formed their own firm. They allegedly poached employees and customers, sources said,” read an India Today report, dated July 12, 2023.
Newschecker traced the viral photo to a reel uploaded by Subramanyam, dated April 30, 2023, on his Instagram page, which suggests that it was taken during a pooja for his office. Although his Facebook bio states that he is a Hindu activist, there is nothing else that indicates he was a seer, priest or religious leader. Girish Madenahalli, a senior crime reporter with Kannada Prabha, told Newschecker that Subramanyam was associated with RSS and had donated towards their programmes but was not a leader of the outfit.
Nagarjun Dwarakanath, deputy editor of India Today TV and head of Karnataka Tak, told Newschecker, “The viral photo is of him doing a pooja, which was taken from his social media account. He is not a seer nor a priest”.
Bengaluru city police commissioner B Dayananda said, “Phanindra Subramanyam is not a Hindu priest, seer nor any religious leader. He was just the MD of the company.”
Meanwhile, the Bengaluru police warned social media users against sharing the viral photo and claim, replying to one such tweet.
The recent brutal murder of a Jain monk in Karnataka had also seen several users making exaggerated and communal claims over the incident, targeting the Congress government. Sources closely linked to the probe told Newschecker that prima facie, the murder was over financial matters.
We reached out to Mohan Gowda, the Karnataka spokesperson of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, whose tweet claiming Subramanyam to be a Hindu leader was retweeted by Rajeev Chandrashekhar. When asked on Subramanyam’s work as a Hindu leader and which Hindu organisations he worked with, Gowda said, “He was associated with RSS and participated in all Hindu activities,” sharing a Kannada Prabha article stating that he was an active participant in RSS programmes.
UPDATE: This article has been updated on 19/07/2023 to include the response from Mohan Gowda.
There is no communal angle to the murder of the MD of a Bengaluru company.
Times of India report, July 12, 2023
The NewsMinute report, July 13, 2023
India Today report, July 12, 2023
Conversation with Nagarjun Dwarakanath, Deputy Editor, India Today
Conversation with B Dayananda, Bengaluru city police commissioner
Conversation with DCP (North East) Laxmi Prasad
(reporting inputs from Ishwarachandra BG)
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