The special investigation team (SIT) probing the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh has named Hindu right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha in its additional charge sheet as an accused filed before a city court. The SIT submitted the 9,235-page charge sheet in the Principal Civil and Sessions court in Bengaluru Friday.
Lankesh, 55, known for her strong anti-Hindutva views, was shot dead in front of her house in Bengaluru on September 5 last year, triggering a nationwide outrage. The then Siddaramaiah-led government constituted the SIT to probe the killing.
A total of 18 people have been accused in the crime, including shooter Parashuram Waghmare, masterminds Amol Kale, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen and Amit Degwekar, PTI reported. The gang is suspected to be involved in the killing of three other rationalists M M Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar, and Govind Pansare
The first chargesheet in the case was filed against suspect K T Naveen Kumar on May 30 after he was arrested on March 2.
Here is what we know so far:
Lankesh killed for ‘anti-Hindu views’: In its first charge sheet against Kumar, the SIT had quoted the alleged accused as saying that Lankesh was killed for her “anti-Hindu views”. Kumar, 37, a member of the Hindu Yuva Sena, was allegedly told of the murder plot after he attended a convention of the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti in Goa in June 2017.
During the probe, Kumar told investigators that he had received much of the instructions regarding his role in the plot to kill Lankesh from a Mangalore-based man he could identify only as Praveen. Sujeet Kumar, who was arrested from Mangalore, was identified as the man referred to as Praveen by Naveen Kumar. Besides Sujeet, Amol Kale alias Bhaisab from Maharashtra, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep from Goa and Manohar Edave, a resident of Karnataka, were arrested in connection with the case.
Accused had a map of Gauri Lankesh house: Three diaries, with handwritten notes on how to carry out covert activities, and a map showing the location of the residence of Lankesh was found in the residences of the four arrested people mentioned above. The sketch of a map, suspected to indicate the street and neighbourhood where Lankesh was murdered, was found in the diary of one of the four, police sources had told The Indian Express.
Lankesh, Kalburgi killed with the same gun: Besides this, in its preliminary chargesheet, the SIT also enclosed a ballistics report from the Karnataka Forensic Science Laboratory, stating that Lankesh was killed with the same 7.65 mm country-made gun that was used to kill Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi in Dharwad in Karnataka on August 30, 2015.
Forensic analysis conducted in 2015 by the Karnataka FSL of bullets and cartridges in the Kalburgi case, with those recovered from the scene of the shooting of the Leftist thinker Govind Pansare, 81, and his wife in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015, showed that one of two 7.65 mm country-made guns was used in both cases. The ballistics report also said that the second 7.65 mm gun used in the Pansare murder was used to kill the rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, 69, in Pune on August 20, 2013.
However, a Gujarat Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report on the 7.65 bore pistol, which was recovered from Sachin Andure, arrested by the CBI for allegedly murdering rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, and which was being suspected to be the weapon used in the killing of Lankesh, has come out to be negative.
16 arrested, 2 absconding: While sixteen of those named in the second chargesheet have been arrested, two of them are still absconding. The chargesheet named Kale as prime accused in the murder plot allegedly executed by Waghmare. It states that Waghmare was recruited, trained and funded by Kale with the assistance of a secretive group linked to the Sanstha.
Eight of the accused in the second chargesheet are from Maharashtra, including four — Shrikant Pangarkar, Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanva Gondhalekar and Vasudev Suryavanshi — who were arrested in August by the Maharashtra ATS for alleged links to a right-wing terror plot in the state. Two people — Vikas Patil alias Nihal alias Dada and Murali alias Shiva — are yet to be arrested.
Seized diary shows two hit lists, Lankesh was Number 2 on one: The name of Lankesh was no 2 on one of two lists with a total of 34 names, who were marked in 2016 for murder in a diary recovered from a key suspect linked to a radical Hindutva group, the SIT had revealed.
‘Girish Karnad was on the hit list of Gauri Lankesh murder suspects’: Eminent film and theatre personality Girish Karnad and several litterateurs and rationalists were on the hit list of those suspected of killing the journalist. Besides Karnad, a recipient of the Jnanpith Award, the highest honour in literature, politician-litterateur B T Lalitha Naik, pontiff Veerabhadra Channamalla Swamy of Nidumamidi Mutt and rationalist C S Dwarakanath had also figured in the list, sources in the SIT had said.