New Delhi: On the night of September 5, when Kannada journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh was killed by unidentified men at her residence in Bengaluru, she was shot at four times at close range, but one bullet missed the mark.
According to Indian Express, the fragments of that fourth bullet have been recovered, with a preliminary analysis of the empty cartridges revealing that a countrymade 7.65 mm pistol was used – the same kind that was used to kill M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.
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 unsolved till date. Forensic investigations of the cartridges and bullets in all three cases had revealed that the weapon that was used in the murder of Kalburgi was the same 7.65 mm pistol that was used to kill Pansare. Additionally, one of the two weapons used to shoot Pansare was used to murder Dabholkar in 2013, Indian Express reported.
A day after Lankesh was killed, Karnataka home minister Ramalinga Reddy drew parallels between her killing and the deaths of the other rationalists, with historian Ramachandra Guha adding that Lankesh’s murder was “part of a pattern that links the deaths of Dabholkar, Kalburgi and Pansare”.
According to Firstpost, this link has been further bolstered after a post-mortem examination on the morning of September 6 revealed three entry and three corresponding exit wounds on the body. According to police officials, “Bullets were fired on chest and heads, and the three assailants came on a bike,” which is “very similar” to the murders of Pansare, Dabholkar and Kalburgi.
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The state police is now likely to order a forensic analysis of the bullet fragments and cartridges found at the scene of Lankesh’s murder in order to compare it with the material found after the killing of the three rationalists.
According to Indian Express, CBI investigation into the Pansare murder case has hinted at the involvement of Sanatan Sanstha, a radical right-wing Goa-based outfit.
The Karnataka police is currently working on the theory that the men behind Lankesh’s murder had been watching her movements for a while and had been trailing her from her workplace on the night she was killed.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah has ordered a special investigation team to probe the journalist’s murder and has asked the CID team that has been investigating Kalburgi’s murder to share any relevant information.
Numerous civil society groups and journalists have condemned the killing of Lankesh – who had recently come under attack for her views against the communal politics of the Sangh parivar in the state.