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Lawyer murdered in high court


27-year-old trial lawyer smuggles knife inside high-security zone, stabs 26-year-old advocate for spurning him


Niranjan Kaggere / S Shyam Prasad / Suchith Kidiyoor
Posted On Friday, July 09, 2010 at 09:13:36 AM
On Thursday, the Karnataka High Court witnessed a horrific incident. At around 1.50 pm, 26-year-old lawyer Naveena Srinivas was allegedly stabbed by a  27-year-old trial court lawyer Rajappa Lakshmaiah outside Court Hall 4 on the first floor. Immediately after stabbing Naveena with a pen knife, Rajappa tried to kill himself. Unrequited love is said to be the cause of the murder.
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According to eye-witnesses, Rajappa came to see Naveena near the court hall during lunch hour, and had a heated argument with her. He then whipped out a small knife and stabbed her a couple of times. Naveena collapsed in a bloody heap and started screaming. Even as some lawyers tried to get hold of him, Rajappa locked himself inside a nearby toilet and stabbed himself. He reportedly consumed poison after stabbing Naveena.
The police arrived almost immediately and brought out the semi-conscious Rajappa. They rushed him to Bowring Hospital, where he is being treated for major injuries in the throat and chest. Naveena was rushed to Mallya Hospital where she was declared brought dead.

Attack took place around 1.30 pm during lunch hour outside courtroom number 4

Senior counsel Subramanya Jois who witnessed the gruesome incident said that if police personnel were areound it would have acted as a deterrent. “Usually armed policemen guard the court hall during proceedings. But it is natural for them too to leave for lunch. Even if there were a few policemen, Rajappa would not have dared commit such a heinous act,” he said.
Yet another advocate, refusing to be named, said, “If they had rushed the ambulance stationed inside Vidhana Soudha, the girl’s life  could could have been saved. Instead it took more than 15 minutes for the amblance to reach the spot.”

There were other hurdles too. “We did not know whether it was near the front gate or in some other part of the court. The staircase to the court hall was not only narrow but also crowded with advocates and it was extremely difficult for our staff to move swiftly with the stretcher,” he added.

Doctors at Mallya Hospital are trying to save Rajappa ‘who has several stab wounds and had also consumed poison’. He is expected to survive.

Families of the victim and the accused, who are based in Kolar district, had rushed to Bangalore after hearing of the incident.

How Rajappa smuggled knife inside
Though the high court is supposed to be in a high security zone that includes the Vidhana Soudha and Legislators’ Home, checking is actually very lax. So, the accused might have easily carried the knife into the court premises.

In theory, any person entering the high court building has to go through a metal detector placed strategically at the various entrances. But in reality, there are quite a few places where anyone can avoid the metal detectors. Three gates are earmarked for vehicles. One is near Gopal Gowda circle, the second opposite Vidhana Soudha and the third is on a road that comes from Press Club. But, the vehicles are not checked at any of these gates. However, those in civilian clothes are sometimes asked about their business in the premises. Those in advocates’ attire are spared any questioning.

Those entering the high court building have to pass through metal detectors at the main entrance. Metal detectors have also been placed on either side of the building. But those who park their vehicles in front of the building or behind can avoid all these detectors.

Anyone can walk into the canteen at the north-east corner of the building. From the canteen on the ground floor, a visitor can move into any other part of the building.

The advocates’ room on the ground floor right behind the statue of Lord Cubbon also does not have any metal detector.
But, hundreds of people enter the building from near State Public Prosecutor’s (SPP) office without undergoing any security check.

Attack not impulsive
Police found a note on Rajappa allegedly stating that he wanted to kill himself and that no one is responsible for his death.

Sources said the note was written in Kannada and said: ‘I am going to die. I had told the girl that I loved her. I wanted to marry her, but she refused. She told me that I will get other girls and I should marry them and I would be happy. I am going to die, but no one is responsible for my death. I have also written another similar letter, which is in my office. All details of the love affair between me and her is in a pen drive at the office.”

Police are investigating the veracity and contents of the letter.

Eyewitness account: ‘Girl was still breathing’
Subramanya Jois, senior counsel in the high court, said, “I was standing just eight feet from where the incident happened. Suddenly a lady started screaming and I and my friend rushed to the spot. When we went there, we were shocked to see an advocate being stabbed repeatedly.

On seeing us, the man ran into the toilet and locked himself inside. We also latched the door from outside thinking that he would escape.

“We were keen on saving the girl who was gasping for breath, so we got her water from court hall 4. While I was trying to pour water into her mouth she collapsed. Everything happened in just three to four minutes. Immediately we called for help.”
According to Azeemuddin, an advocate in the HC, “I was on my way to the rest room and accidentally happened to see the girl’s face as she was talking to the man.

“But when I was coming out of the rest room, I saw her lying in a pool of blood. The man was trying to stab himself in the corridor. I rushed towards him and I tried to stop him but he kept stabbing himself.

“He then ran into the toilet and locked the door. I saw him carrying a bottle wrapped in a paper and it could have been poison.
“All this happened in a span of minutes. I alerted the people around and by this time even the police had arrived on the scene. The girl was still breathing and her body was convulsing. I also alerted her boss, senior advocate Prakash Shetty, about the incident.”

Fate decreed otherwise
Naveena’s senior, advocate Prakash Shetty wanted her to accompany him to the Central Administrative Tribunal in Indiranagar after she was done with her work in the High Court.

“We were to leave at 1 pm. She was talking to her advocate friends, so I left her behind.

“She called me at 1.30 pm. By then, I was already near Indiranagar,” Prakash Shetty said.

Naveena and her colleague Satish BH ate vadas at the High Court canteen after their senior left.

“She had just collected her smart card and called me at 1.05 pm and I asked her to be near the registration office. We ate vadas in the canteen. I told her she was looking good today and she said she had had a head bath. I told her we would have lunch near the car parked outside.

“She was with me till 1.15 pm. She left with Rajappa when he came,” Satish said.

Satish, who works in the same office as Naveena, says he had advised Rajappa a day before the murder not to pester her. “On Wednesday, I advised him not to bother her. They are from different castes and I told him it would be near impossible for them to get married. I do not know for how long the two knew each other, but in the last few weeks I have seen him come to meet her.

“She always tried to avoid him. She was living at a paying guest facility near Modi Hospital. He was living in a rented room in Malleshwaram,” Satish revealed.

Prakash Shetty said he has never met Rajappa. “I did not know anything about him until this incident. Naveena was a very nice girl who kept to herself. She was working with us for the last three months.

“If she had come with me to Indiranagar today as planned, she would have been alive,” he said.

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