Updated: October 14, 2017 7:56:21 am
The Karnataka Police SIT investigating the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh (55) has decided to release portraits of two suspects who allegedly shot the journalist and a video clip of one of the suspects conducting a recce ahead of the murder. The SIT is likely to release the portraits and the video on Saturday, hoping that public will provide more details about the suspects and the motorcycle used in the crime, said sources. Lankesh was shot dead outside her home on September 5 by an unidentified assailant who came with an accomplice on a motorcycle.
According to sources, the portraits have been prepared using enhanced footage from CCTV cameras at Lankesh’s residence that captured the recce as well as the shooting, and accounts of eyewitnesses who have said they saw the suspects in the area prior to the crime. The SIT has prepared the portraits with the assistance of a US-based firm, said sources. Though the quality of the enhanced images is not very good, the SIT has managed to ascertain the colour and make of the motorcycle and a sticker of deity on the front fairing, they added.
Efforts to trace the red Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle with a registration number beginning KA-02 through the police network in Bengaluru has not provided requisite results. Hence, the SIT is hoping that public would be able to identify the motorcycle, sources said.
One of the key findings in the investigation into Lankesh’s murder has so far been the forensic evidence that the 7.65 mm countrymade gun used to kill her was the one used to kill Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi on August 30, 2015, in Dharwad. The finding has led to the theory that Lankesh and Kalburgi were killed by the same set of people. With the analysis of bullets and cartridges in the Karnataka murders matching that of the bullets and cartridges fired in the Maharashtra murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013 and leftist thinker Govind Pansare in 2015, investigators think one group is involved in all the four murders.
With the investigation in Maharashtra by the CBI and the state SIT suggesting involvement of members of right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in the murders of Dabholkar and Pansare, the Karnataka SIT is also probing if these organisations were involved in the two murders in the state.
Sources in the SIT said the portrait of one of the suspects in Lankesh’s murder bears resemblance to a suspect missing from Maharashtra over the past few years who is suspected to be involved in the two killings there. Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy has, over the past few weeks, stated that the SIT has been able to identify the killers of Lankesh and that they are gathering evidence to build a strong case against the suspects.
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