The Special Investigating Team, probing the Gauri Lankesh case, has recorded the statement of writer Vikram Sampath in connection with the killing of the journalist-activist. “After I came from London a couple of days back, an SIT official visited my house to record my statement in connection with Gauri Lankesh case,” he told PTI here.
Sampath said though he felt it was not a “constructive” approach by the SIT official, he cooperated with him as any law-abiding citizen would do. He said the approach of the SIT would have made some sense if he had written a critical piece about the 55-year-old Gauri, but he neither responded nor did he react to her articles.
“If anything, it was Gauri who had defamed me publicly and I was the supposed wronged-party,” he alleged. Gauri had reportedly written a critical article on Sampath in her Kannada tabloid and some English newspapers for opposing the ‘Award Wapsi’ campaign by writers in 2015.
The Bengaluru Literature Festival that year had run into rough weather following Sampath’s decision to step down as the festival director after some Kannada writers refused to participate in the event because of his remarks over the writers returning their awards. “Will the SIT also be questioning everyone whom Gauri has been critical of?.. because as a fearless journalist she has been critical of several individuals, including the Prime Minister of India. But, I and my aged parents needed to go through this ordeal and tension for what?” he asked. “None of her (Gauri) articles against me have I ever read, or even responded to as it did not seem important to me to react to every opinion in that charged atmosphere, with a counter,” he added.
Sampath, who was questioned on Friday, sought to know whether the SIT would reach its rightful and logical conclusion or go the same way as several other special teams that were constituted after the killing of writers, civil servants or police officials in Karnataka but went nowhere even after years of probing.
The writer also asked media, politicians and intellectuals not to put forth their theories on who might have killed Gauri. “No one – media, intellectuals, politicians or anyone else – should jump the gun..They should allow SIT to investigate the matter.. Pressure would only create more confusion,” he added.
The Karnataka government had on September 6 announced the formation of a 21-member SIT team to investigate the killing of Gauri that led to a wave of countrywide protests and condemnation across the political spectrum. Gauri Lankesh, known to be an anti-establishment voice with strident anti-right wing views, was shot dead at close range by unknown assailants at her home here on the night of September 5. A few other writers were also reportedly questioned by the SIT in connection with the murder.