A Karnataka police SIT, which took over the investigation into the 2015 murder of Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi in March this year on the directions of the Supreme Court, has taken into custody a key accused in the 2017 murder case of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
Amol Kale, 37, a former convenor of the Sanatan Sanstha-affiliated Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, was produced in a court in Dharwad in connection with the Kalburgi case on a body warrant on Tuesday and was remanded in SIT custody for 11 days.
Kale is the first person to be technically placed under arrest by the SIT after the Supreme Court in February directed that the case be handed over to the SIT. The directive came on a petition filed by Kalburgi’s wife Umadevi.
The 77-year-old scholar was shot dead outside his home at Dharwad on August 30, 2015. The case was initially investigated by the CID unit of Karnataka police before being handed over to the SIT.
The CID, in the course of its investigation, found that Kalburgi had been killed by the same gun that was used to shoot Leftist thinker Govind Pansare (81) in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, on February 16, 2015. After Lankesh’s murder, the Karnataka SIT and the CID found that the journalist was killed with the same gun that was used to kill the scholar.
The CID earlier arrested three youths — Ganesh Miskin (27), Amit Baddi (26) and Vasudev Suryavanshi (29) — on the basis of inputs given by the SIT and on the basis of its own investigation.
The SIT, which picked up threads from its own investigation into the Gauri Lankesh case, has found that Kale also played a key role in the murder of Kalburgi.
Investigation has revealed that a blue motorcycle allegedly stolen by Suryavanshi, a motorcycle mechanic, was used to execute the murder. After the killing of Kalburgi, the killers abandoned it in the neighbouring Belagavi district where it was retrieved and stashed away, allegedly by Kale and an associate. The bike was recovered in Mumbai last year during a crackdown by Maharashtra ATS on a radical right-wing group linked to the Sanatan Sanstha and allegedly involved in terrorist activities.
The SIT is trying to establish the identity of the two persons who reached Kalburgi’s residence on August 30, 2015 to shoot him down.
Although a witness in the Lankesh case said that Kale had told him that the Kalburgi killing was carried out by two Hubli youths Ganesh Miskin and Amit Baddi, who have been arrested in the Lankesh case. the SIT probe has not found evidence to corroborate the statement.