Karnataka: Man arrested for stealing buffaloes 58 years ago

Three buffaloes laying in turbid water of the Ganges river, Varanasi, India
Image caption,In 1965, Wagore and co-accused Krishna Chander were arrested for stealing buffaloes

By Imran Qureshi

BBC Hindi

Police in the southern Indian state of Karnataka have arrested a 78-year-old man who was accused of stealing two buffaloes and a calf in 1965.

Ganapati Vitthal Wagore was 20 when he was first arrested 58 years ago for the alleged theft, along with another man.

Police said they were freed on bail but disappeared after that and could not be traced. His co-accused died in 2006.

Last week, a court freed Wagore on bail on account of his old age after his re-arrest.

The case had gone cold but it resurfaced a few weeks ago when a team of police looked through old files of pending investigations and decided to make a final attempt to find the men.

The theft took place in Bidar district of Karnataka. But Wagore was caught from different villages in neighbouring Maharashtra state both times.

Police say that Wagore and another man, Krishna Chander, had admitted to stealing the animals in 1965, following which they were produced before a local court that granted them conditional bail.

But after being released, the two men stopped responding to summons and warrants.

Police teams from Bidar were sent to villages in Karnataka as well as neighbouring Maharashtra but the two men, who worked as agricultural labourers, could not be found.

The case was re-opened last month. “My colleagues began making inquiries among the residents of Umarga village,” Chennabasavanna Langoti, police chief of Bidar district, told BBC Hindi. Wagore was arrested in 1965 from Umarga in Maharashtra.

Police then found an old woman who they thought might remember the incident. “When we spoke to her, she innocuously told my colleagues that he [Wagore] is alive,” Mr Langoti said.

The woman pointed them to Thakalagaon village in Maharashtra’s Nanded district – the biggest clue the police had received in more than five decades.

The team visited the village where residents told him that a man called Wagore had been living in a local temple.

Wagore identified himself to the police and said he had been “too scared to go to the court”.

He was then brought back to Karnataka http://blejermot.com/ and produced before the court where he was represented by a lawyer from the Legal Aid Society pro bono.

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