New Delhi: The chargesheet in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh has said that the assassination was an “organised crime” carried out by people associated with the Sanatan Sanstha, an extremist right-wing Hindutva organisation.
The Karnataka police filed a 9,235-page chargesheet in the case, naming 18 people, on Friday.
Amol Kale, former Pune convenor of the Sanstha-affiliated Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, has been named as the prime accused, Indian Express reported. The murder was reportedly carried out by Parashuram Waghmare, a member of the Sri Rama Sena.
“It is an act of organised crime. The Sanatan Sanstha has been named in the chargesheet as the group that carried out the killing with the help of members of other fringe groups. The murder was planned by a group involved in such killings for five years,’’ the newspaper quoted special public prosecutor S. Balan as saying.
The chargesheet has also mentioned that the group had a ‘hit list’, which included the name of The Wire‘s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan. Other names on the list, according to Deccan Herald, were journalist Antara Dev Sen, JNU professor Chaman Lal, Punjabi playwright Atamjit Singh and 26 people from different states, apart from eight people in Karnataka.
Friday’s chargesheet is the second one filed in the Gauri Lankesh murder case; the preliminary chargesheet was filed on May 30 against K.T. Naveen Kumar, who was arrested on March 2. Kumar had said then that the journalist was killed for her “anti-Hindu” views.
The new chargesheet says the 18 people have been named based on forensic findings, including ballistics and DNA evidence, and digital evidence, including CCTV footage and gait analysis, Indian Express reported. It also says that the SIT has recorded confessions from several accused men, which are valid as evidence under the Karnataka Control of Organized Crime Act, 2000.
Police personnel have previously said that the same group is responsible for the assassinations of Lankesh and rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and M.M. Kalburgi. “During the investigation, it came to light that a gang of like-minded people was involved in the killings of Dabholkar, Lankesh and Kalburgi. Almost all members of this gang have links with the Sanatan Sanstha and its offshoot Hindu Janjagruti Samiti,” an official had said.
The preliminary chargesheet had also said that Lankesh was killed with the same gun used to assassinate Kalburgi in Dharwad in Karnataka on August 30, 2015.
Well-known journalist Gauri Lankesh, editor of the weekly Lankesh Patrike magazine, was shot dead at her residence in Bengaluru late on September 5, 2017.