Karnataka: A 42-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the murder of his 22-year-old relative, who was reported to having died by suicide last month in Karnataka’s Udupi district, police said on Sunday.

Police said the accused, Dinesh Safaliga (42), uncle of deceased Kruthik J Saliyan (22), was arrested on Saturday. A case under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against him at the Hiridka police station, said a senior police officer.

During his interrogation, the accused said he convinced Saliyan, who liked a woman and wanted to marry her, to make a “fake suicide video” to win her over, said the officer. “He then brought the victim to a forested area to shoot the video and set up a noose on top of a boulder,” circle inspector Anantha Padmanabha told HT. “While Saliyan was standing with the noose around his head, the accused pushed the bolder, resulting in his death.”

The accused then fled throwing the mobile into a river, said Padmanabha, who is also the investigation officer in the case. While hatching the murder plan, the accused also convinced the victim to write a suicide note, the officer added.

The incident happened on September 14, when the man’s body was recovered from the forest near his house. An unnatural death report (UDR) for suicide was registered the same day at the Hiridka police station, after initial investigation

and autopsy report ruled out any foul play, said the officer.

The deceased, who was settled in Mumbai working in hospitality industry, had come home for a vacation and was staying with his other relatives as his parents had died long ago, he added.

“But we continued the probe as we could not trace his mobile phone or find any strong reason for the man to die by suicide,” said the officer. “Even his relatives and friends could not give any information about him being in any trouble.”

The police then started looking at various angles, one of which led to checking the bank details of the deceased. “We came to know that his relative Dinesh Safaliga had taken ₹9 lakh loan from him,” said the officer. “We started closely watching the activities of Dinesh for the next 15 days.”

On Saturday, the police called Safaliga to the police station and during detailed enquiry about financial transactions between the two, the accused confessed to the crime, said the officer. “We converted the unnatural death report into a murder case and further investigation is on.”

The officer added that they are yet to recover the mobile phone.

“We could not have thought even in our dreams that he was murdered,” Shylaja Karkera, a relative of the deceased, told HT. “The culprit should be hanged for killing his relative mercilessly.”

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