Gauri Lankesh Murder: Four More Arrested, SIT to File Chargesheet Today

The SIT is also extending the probe to find out if the accused and his accomplices had any links with the murder of rationalists M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.

New Delhi: The Special Investigation Team formed by the Karnataka police to investigate the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh is close to solving the case, a report in the Indian Express said. The progress in the investigation comes in the wake of the arrest of four persons, linked to the radical right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha and its sister outfit Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), charged with conspiracy to kill rationalist-writer K.S. Bhagwan in Mysore.

The arrested are Amol Kale alias Bhaisab (39) an activist of the HJS from Maharashtra, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep (39) a Sanatan Sanstha activist and resident of Goa, Manohar Edave (28) a resident of Vijayapura in Karnataka, and Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen (37), a HJS and Sanatan Sanstha activist from Mangaluru. The accused are also associated with K.T. Naveen Kumar (37), an activist of the Hindu Yuva Sena, who attended several meetings of the HJS and Sanatan Sanstha in 2017, and was arrested in March 2018 in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.

Naveen was named as an accused in the Lankesh murder case after he was taken into custody by the SIT on March 2 on the basis of findings in the plot to kill Bhagwan. After helping to execute the Lankesh killing, Naveen was allegedly roped in by his handlers to facilitate the killing of Bhagwan around December 2017, police sources said.

Naveen Kumar reportedly told investigators that he received instructions to kill Lankesh and Bhagwan from a Mangaluru-based man he could identify only as Praveen. The investigation agencies have now identified HJS activist Sujeet Kumar as Praveen.

The SIT is expected to file a 650-word page chargesheet against Naveen on Wednesday.  Naveen has been charged with murder, criminal conspiracy along with concealment and destruction of evidence while Praveen has been named as one of the key players in the murder of Gauri Lankesh.

The chargesheet is, however, not expected to mention any specific right wing outfit’s role in Gauri’s murder. The SIT is also extending the probe to find out if Praveen and his accomplices had any links with the murder of rationalists M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar in the past, Bangalore Mirror reported.

Well-known journalist Gauri Lankesh, editor of the weekly Lankesh Patrike magazine, was shot dead by unidentified men at her residence in Bengaluru late on September 5. Protests erupted across Karnataka to condemn the dastardly killing of Gauri Lankesh.

The murders of Kannada scholar Kalburgi in August 2015 as well as of Maharashtra rationalists Pansare in February 2015 and Dabholkar in August 2013, remain unresolved till date. Forensic investigations of the cartridges and bullets in all three cases have revealed that the weapon that was used in the murder of Kalburgi was the same 7.65 mm pistol used to kill Pansare. Additionally, one of the two weapons used to shoot Pansare was used to murder Dabholkar in 2013, Indian Express had reported.