A Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the September 5, 2017 murder of journalist-cum-activist Gauri Lankesh, 55, outside her residence in Bengaluru, is set to seek the custody of a 37-year-old man who was arrested on February 18 for illegal possession of bullets. K T Naveen Kumar, who hails from south Karnataka, was arrested by the Bengaluru Police on February 18 following a complaint by crime branch officials that he was carrying bullets at a city bus stand. Investigation in the case has revealed that Kumar, during his conversation about guns and ammunition with some of his friends from Maddur, had alluded to his links to the murder case.
SIT officials have already questioned Kumar on a few occasions till now.
Kumar’s alleged links with Hindu Yuva Sena, right-wing radical Hindutva group, and Sanatan Sanstha outfit and its affiliate the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti were also established during the probe. Over 15 rounds of cartridges of .32 calibre, which are the same as the 7.65 mm cartridges, were seized from his possession.
Gauri was shot dead with a 7.65 mm country-made pistol by unidentified men in the drive way of her residence. CCTV footage showed that the man, who was wearing a helmet, had conducted a recce of the house hours before the crime. The physique of the man is in close resemblance to that of Kumar, according to officials.
A forensic analysis of the four empty cartridges and four bullets which were fired at Gauri show that the markings on them are similar to those on the bullets and cartridges which were used to kill Kannada scholar and researcher M M Kalburgi, 77, in northern Karnataka town of Dharwad on August 30, 2015.
Reports also suggest that the two, along with leftist thinker Govind Pansare, were shot with the same 7.65 mm pistol. At least five bullets were fired at Govind Pansare and his wife Uma Pansare from two country-made guns on February 16, 2015 in Kohlapur. Investigation revealed that the second gun which was used to kill the Pansares was the same one used to kill rationalist Narendra Dabholkar (69) on August 20, 2013 in Pune.