He gave police the slip five times and was finally caught in 2002
Back in 1998, Basalingappa Nandeppa Nyamagouda, now retired, was Circle Inspector at Peenya station in Bengaluru when a brutal rape and murder of a woman was reported in his jurisdiction. The culprit had entered the house seeking drinking water and then raped and murdered the housewife. The victim’s son had caught a glimpse of him as he left home.
Though he was convicted in several cases, the case in which the stage was set for Umesh Reddy’s execution is this 1998 incident. The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday rejected his plea for commutation of death penalty to life imprisonment. He has been in solitary confinement at Hindalga jail in Belagavi for 15 years.
Escape and chase
Back in 1998, after the crime in Peenya, a detailed investigation had followed, including finger print recovery and a dog squad chase. The police zeroed in on a two wheeler used by the accused. While he eluded the plain clothes policemen who followed the bike around the area, he was caught later with the help of public when he tried to assault another lone woman in her home a few months later the same year.
During the interrogation, Umesh Reddy admitted to the body offences, but did not reveal about the robberies. Investigators finally traced the house he had taken on rent and found two kilograms of gold and other stolen property. But what revealed the psychotic mind of the killer were bags full of women’s inner clothing. The accused seemed to enjoy wearing the clothes of his victims. He had been caught earlier and escaped and continued, taking on a different identity, recalls Mr. Nyamagouda.
Interrogation also revealed his modus operadi of targeting single women, widows and housewives, after watching them for sometime. He entered their houses on the pretext of seeking drinking water or rooms for rent. He chose the time of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., when men were out working and children were in school. He threatened them with weapons, or choked them, raped them, while unconscious or dead, and made away with valuables and their inner clothing.
“Umesh Reddy must have committed 20-22 rapes and a few murders. But a lot of the victims did not complain about the rapes due to social stigma. They only complained about the theft of properties,” recalled Mr Nyamagouda. He had committed offences in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The police officer filed the complaint, investigated and cracked the Peenya case and filed the relevant charge sheet in the court. He also appeared as a witness in a case filed in Baroda against Umesh Reddy and his associates. Mr Nyamagouda travelled to Baroda and other places in connection with the investigation.
In all, Umesh Reddy was caught but escaped police custody five times, finally to be caught in 2002 in Yeshwantpur in Bengaluru.
Once a constable
“He was a police constable before he was dismissed on charges of rape. He is also a fugitive former employee of a central police organisation. This gave him an understanding of the working of the police department,” said another police officer who has worked on some of the cases.
“He knew how to cover his tracks, making it difficult for the police to catch him. But his luck ran out every time. He has been in jail for a large part of his life. Now he is headed to the gallows,’’ said the officer.
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