Updated: September 7, 2017 6:46:38 pm
There days after the cold-blooded murder of senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh by unidentified bike-borne assailants in Bengaluru, the Special Investigating Team (SIT) started its probe on Thursday. The Karnataka government, which had announced the formation of a 21-member SIT team, said today it is hopeful of nabbing the culprits ‘as soon as possible’.
Gauri Lankesh’s killing has sparked countrywide protests even as journalists, activists and politicians from various spectrum have condemned the brazen act. State Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said today: “SIT members have started their investigation into the Gauri Lankesh murder case and the state government is hopeful of nabbing the assailants as soon as possible.”
Responding to a question, Reddy said the Inquiry Officer has been given full freedom to probe the matter and make public information as and when required. When asked whether police had given any hints on the ideological identity of the assailant based on prima facie evidence, Reddy said the duty of SIT members is to investigate and nab the assailants. “They may have some prima facie evidence, but they have the prerogative of not making it public,” he added.
Reddy said police are screening footage of the seized CCTV which was fixed at the location where the 55-year-old outspoken journalist was shot dead. Asked if there was any political compulsion for deciding against a CBI probe into the murder of Gauri Lankesh, Reddy said, “Who said this? We are open minded, and that is what Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said. If we feel the case is needed to be probed by CBI, we will hand over the case to it.”
Gauri Lankesh, known to be an anti-establishment voice with strident anti-right wing opinions, was gunned down at close range by unknown assailants at her home here on the night of September 5. The state Home Minister also mentioned that senior police officials are working towards acquiring more leads into the killing of progressive Kannada writer and rationalist Dr M M Kalburgi, 77, and that the government is hopeful of cracking this case as well.
Regarding the murder of Kalburgi, Reddy said: “The Kalburgi case has come to a certain stage, but we still need to gather evidence. Senior officials are working on it. I am hopeful that the government will solve this case as well as 99 per cent of such cases across the country have been solved and this will be no exception either.” he said.
Gauri’s murder comes just days after the second anniversary of the killing of Kalburgi, who fell to bullets fired by two unidentified men at his residence at Dharwad in north Karnataka on August 30, 2015.
(With PTI inputs)
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