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ATS takes custody of two accused named in Gauri Lankesh murder

Sujeeth Kumar alias Pravin Rangaswamy and Bharat Kurne alias Uncle, both 37, were brought to Mumbai on Wednesday from the Central jail in Bengaluru and produced before a special court.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
September 13, 2018 3:20:00 am
In preparation for murder, two youths monitored Lankesh’s activities: SIT Gauri Lankesh

THE MAHARASHTRA Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has taken custody of two men named as accused in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh for its probe into the arms haul case involving Hindutva groups. Sujeeth Kumar alias Pravin Rangaswamy and Bharat Kurne alias Uncle, both 37, were brought to Mumbai on Wednesday from the Central jail in Bengaluru and produced before a special court.

According to the ATS, the previously arrested accused in the arms haul case, including Sharad Kalaskar, now in the custody of the CBI for his alleged role in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, had undergone training in firearms at Kurne’s farmhouse called Sathiya Resort in Chikhali village in Karnataka. The ATS claimed that some firearm particles were seized from this spot after the accused led them there.

The particles have been sent for forensic analysis, the court was told. Chief public prosecutor Jaisingh Desai and prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves submitted that the names of Sujeeth and Kurne were found written in code words in the diaries of the earlier arrested accused. The names were revealed after being decoded and were in the context of firearms training, the ATS told the court.

The ATS submitted that it suspected these two men to be involved in the arms haul case conspiracy. As per the probe so far, the ATS claims that the accused had conducted recce in various places to target places and persons they believed were against Hindu religion and culture. The ATS also claimed that two vehicles registered at Dharwad and Dawangiri were found with duplicate number plates and it is to be ascertained as to where these were used.

On Wednesday, when the two were brought before the court, Sujeeth said he only understood Kannada and was asked if he had any complaints of ill-treatment through an assistant police inspector of ATS, who knew the language. Both Sujeeth and Kurne said that they had no complaints.

Advocate Sanjeev Punalekar, representing them, opposed the ATS being granted police custody. Special Judge V S Padalkar, however, said that the grounds submitted by the ATS were “legal and justified”. The two have been sent to ATS custody till September 17.

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