A Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka police probing the September 5, 2017 murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh outside her home in Bengaluru on Thursday named three more persons as key accused and secured their custody for 12 days.
The three persons, linked to Sanatan Sanstha outfit and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, were identified as Amol Kale alias Bhaisab, 39, from Maharashtra; Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep, 39, from Goa; and Manohar Edave, 28, from Karnataka. They were arrested a few days ago for plotting to kill writer K S Bhagwan at his home in Mysuru.
A fourth person, Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, 37, from Karnataka, also arrested in the Bhagwan case and already named as an accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder, was also formally named by the SIT as an accused.
The SIT produced the four men in a magistrate’s court on Thursday, a day after they were remanded in judicial custody in the Bhagwan murder plot.
SIT officials told the court that investigations in the Bhagwan case had led to crucial evidence to link the four men to the Gauri Lankesh murder — necessitating their interrogation in custody. The SIT said it needs to take the four to parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa for investigations. “There is reason to believe the four men were involved in illegal, secretive activities on account of as many as 43 mobile phone SIM cards being found in their possession,” an investigator said.
The total number of persons accused in the murder is now five. In March, the SIT had arrested a resident of Maddur region in Karnataka, K T Naveen Kumar, 37, an activist of an outfit called the Hindu Yuva Sena, on charges of providing logistical support to the killers in the form of identification of the journalist-activist’s home and office and carrying out surveillance activities.
In a chargesheet filed on Wednesday, the SIT quoted Kumar – who attended several meetings of Sanatan Sanstha in Karnataka and Goa – as saying that the journalist-activist was killed for her “anti-Hindu views” and “criticism of Hindu Gods”.