THREE diaries with handwritten notes on how to carry out covert activities and a map showing the location of the residence of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017, have been found by investigators in the homes of four persons arrested on May 20 and May 21 for allegedly plotting to kill Kannada writer and critic K S Bhagwan.
The sketch of a map, suspected to indicate the street and neighbourhood where Lankesh was murdered, has been found in the diary of one of the four, police sources told The Indian Express.
The four linked to the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) are: Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, 37, a resident of Karnataka; Amol Kale alias Bhaisab, 39, from Maharashtra; Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep, 39, a resident of Goa; and Manohar Edave, 28, a resident of Karnataka.
A Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka police probing the Lankesh murder found the diaries with messages in code at the homes of three of these suspects. The discovery of a map of the location of Lankesh’s home has prompted the SIT to initiate measures to seek custody of the four in the Lankesh case.
So with the four suspects remanded to judicial custody in the Bhagwan case on Wednesday, the SIT will place them under arrest on Thursday after obtaining their custody, sources said.
The four are closely linked to 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 the first to be arrested, on March 2, in the Lankesh murder case.
The SIT filed its 650-page chargesheet in the Lankesh case on Wednesday naming only K T Naveen Kumar — for the time being — as an accused and charging the right-wing activist with providing logistical support for the murder. Naveen Kumar was accused of locating her home for the eventual perpetrators and of providing information about her movements.
Following his arrest in February, Naveen Kumar told investigators that he received much of the instructions regarding his role in the plot to kill Lankesh and Bhagwan from a Mangalore- based man he could identify only as Praveen. Sujeet Kumar, who was arrested from Mangalore, has been identified as the man referred to as Praveen by Naveen Kumar.
Diaries found in the homes of Sujeet Kumar and the other arrested indicate the suspects went to great lengths to “standardize” methods of keeping targets under surveillance ahead of assassination plots. The SIT has provided details of telephone conversations that Naveen Kumar had with friends and family about his alleged links to the Lankesh murder.