Agni Sreedhar is an Indian gangster turned journalist, writer, and social activist. He was active in the Bangalore underworld from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. He is the founder of the Kannada weekly magazine Agni. He wrote several books and directed a Kannada movie. He is the founder of the social work organisation Karunada Sene.
Agni Sreedhar aka Sreedhar Murthy The Times of India was born in 1955 (age 67 years; as of 2022) in Mynakanahalli, Channapattana, Karnataka. He did his schooling at Banumaiah High School, Mysore, and came to Bengaluru in 1974 to study law at the Vokkaligara Sangha Law College. He had a frail body in his childhood and took up martial arts in his teenage years to gain physical strength. His friends and other students at his school and college made fun of his appearance, and he often engaged in fistfights to show his physical strength.
Height (approx.): 5′ 9″
Weight (approx.): 65 kg
Hair Colour: Salt and Pepper (half-bald)
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Thammegowda, who was a primary school teacher. He has a brother named Basanth Kumar, who was the deputy superintendent of the police in 2017.
Wife & Children
His wife’s name is Latha Sreedhar, who is an engineering graduate, and the couple has a daughter and a son. His daughter’s name is Ramya Sreedhar, who is a certified corporate trainer, transformational & life coach, motivational speaker, rapper and lyricist.
His address is No.3/A, 9th ‘B’ Main Road, Prashanthi Nagara, ISRO Layout, Bengaluru-560078.
He was active in student politics during his college and got patronage from local dons. In 1979, some goons of an underworld don Kotwal Ramachandra misidentified his brother Basanth Kumar for some other person, attacked him, and broke his leg. When he went to the Police, they refused to take any action and asked Agni to himself kill the don. This incident made him angry, and he started to find ways to take revenge for his brother’s beating by killing Kotwal. He started printing counterfeit notes and befriended Sardar, a close associate of Kotwal. He joined Kotwal’s gang and secured weapons for the gang. During that time, he was approached by another underworld don, M. P. Jayaraj to kill Kotwal. Agni agreed on one condition that his name should not be linked with the murder and the underworld, which Jayaraj agreed to and told Agni that he would take the murder charges upon himself. On the night of 22 March 1986, Agni with his associates Syed Aman Bachchan aka Bachchan and Seetharam Shetty murdered Kotwal Ramachandra in a farmhouse near Allalasandra, Tumkur, Bengaluru. Three months later, he was arrested after his aide Seetharam Shetty gave a statement containing the details of Kotwal’s murder to the police. He spent 1 year and 8 months behind bars before being released due to the lack of evidence; however, the news of his arrest for Kotwal’s murder became public, and his name spread in the underworld. During the late 1990s, he started to keep away from the underworld, and by the early 2000s, he had completely moved away from the underworld.
Journalist & Writer
He knew P. Lankesh, the editor of the Lankesh Patrike magazine since the 1980s. In the late 1990s, he was looking for a new profession to live a civilised life, and when he came to know about Lankesh’s demise in 2000, he started a Kannada weekly magazine titled Agni. In his magazine, he writes about different social issues like politician-underworld nexus, education, and casteism. He wrote several books on his life and spirituality, which were well-received by the public. His books include his autobiography Dadagiriya Dinagalu (3 parts) in 2006, My Days in the Underworld: Rise of the Bangalore Mafia in 2013, Quantum Jagattu in 2014, and The Gangster’s Gita in 2019.
From 1974 to 1979, while studying in college, he acted in small roles in six Kannada films. In the mid-2000s, he started working as a screenplay writer, story writer, dialogue writer, and director in the Kannada film industry. His stories are mainly based on his life in the underworld and the lives of other dons he met in the underworld. He has won several awards for his debut film as a screenplay writer, Aa Dinagalu, released in 2007, and for his directorial debut movie Thamassu, released in 2010.
Agni Sreedhar claimed in many interviews that he fell into the life of crime unintentionally and expressed his desire to serve the poor and the needy. He is the founder of two NGOs named Karunada Sene and Nyayakkaagi Naavu. He organized many protests against the mining mafia in Karnataka.
Protest against the moral policing by the Sri Rama Sena
In 2009, he protested against Sri Ram Sena for threatening couples celebrating valentine’s day in public. He launched a helpline and assured protection to the couples from any attacks. Bangalore Mirror
Protest against Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living
In 2010, he claimed that Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living organisation was encroaching land of the farmers to build their ashram. He also alleged that Sri Sri Ravishankar’s organisation conducted illegal activities in their ashrams, and Sri Sri Ravishankar honey-trapped Swami Nithyananda using one of his disciples as he was jealous of the latter’s rising popularity and released the sex video of Nithyananda and a girl. Sri Sri Ravishankar denied these allegations and alleged that he was getting extortion calls asking for $1 million from a number belonging to Agni. Ravishankar also threatened to file a preemptive Rs50 crore defamation case against Agni. In a press conference, Agni said that he represented Paul Fernandez, an NRI, whose 15-acre land was grabbed by the Art of Living organisation for their ashram. Mangalore Today IJR – Indian Journalism Review
Slapped by a cop in 2017
In March 2017, Agni Sreedhar complained to the Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG-IGP) R K Dutta against the Additional Commissioner of Police Hemanth Nimbalkar and his team. Agni wrote in his complaint that Nimbalkar and his team were searching his house during a raid, and Nimbalkar accused him of having contacts with North Indian killers, and a police inspector working on Nimbalkar’s directions, slapped him. Sometime after this incident, he complained of chest pain and was taken to the hospital. Doctors checked his condition, and he was later released from the hospital. Deccan Chronicle The Times of India
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Karnataka Sahitya Akademi Award for his autobiography Dadagiriya Dinagalu
- Best dialogue writer in the Karnataka State Film Awards in 2008
- Best dialogue writer at the Kanfida Film Awards in 2008
- Best dialogue writer at the Udaya Film Awards in 2008
- Best story writer at the Suvarna Film Awards in 2008
- Best screenplay writer in the Kannada State Film Awards list in 2011
- Book Award in the science category by Karnataka Sahitya Academy for his book Quantum Jagattu in 2016
On 1 July 1997, an underworld goon and his rival Bannanje Raja and his associates shot several times at his car. He was not present in the car; however, his associates Bacchan and Mehmood, travelling along with the driver Srinivasa suffered injuries. His driver later succumbed to the injuries. India Today
- He likes playing chess and was the amateur chess champion for South India in 1977.
- He likes to watch movies starring Bruce Lee.
- His mother was a very disciplinarian person and would beat him if he said any abusive words in front of her.
- Underworld don Chota Rajan asked Agni Sreedhar to join his gang; however, Agni refused.
- He suffers from Diabetes and underwent two angioplasties in 2012.
- His father was called Dharmaraya as he shunned violence and always spoke the truth.
- Agni Sreedhar claimed in an interview that he would have been an IAS or a journalist if he had not ventured into the underworld.
- At one point in his life, he did not go to a restaurant for 5 years and did not go to a movie theatre for 2 decades due to a threat to his life.
- He was a voracious reader and carried two books in his bag along with 2 swords.
- When he was 14 years old, he once found some papers along with a matchbox containing two matchsticks outside the Mysore palace. He burned the papers, and some policemen spotted him. They told him to drop the matchbox and go home. His brother told his parents about this incident, and his parents told him that they believed he wanted to burn the palace to gain some notoriety. This incident left a lasting impression on him.
- He was influenced by Maoist philosophy since his childhood and believed that violence can be used as a tool to change society.
- He alleged in an interview that the Chief Minister of Karnataka from 1972 to 1977, and from 1978 to 1980, D. Devaraj Urs gave political protection to the rowdies, which in turn gave birth to Bangaluru Underworld. Hindustan Times
- He was a guest speaker at the India Trade Awards ceremony held at the Manpho Convention Center, Bengaluru in October 2022.
- He donated the award money won from his film Thamassu to the family of cinematographer Sundarnath Suvarna.
- He rejected the Best Dialogue Writer award given by Karnataka State Film Academy in January 2009 for the movie Aa Dinagalu and said he believed that the movie deserved better treatment from the judges. The Times of India
- In an interview, he said that he is a fan of Russian literature. In the same interview, he also revealed that his favourite writers are French philosopher, author, dramatist, and journalist, Albert Camus and Mexican writer and anthropologist, Carlos Castañeda.