A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Maharashtra police probing the 2015 murder of Leftist thinker Govind Pansare in Kolhapur was Friday granted custody of three persons arrested in connection with the 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru. The Maharashtra SIT approached the court of principal sessions judge in Bengaluru with a body warrant issued by a Kohlapur court to take into custody Amol Kale (37), Ganesh Miskin (27) and Amit Baddi (28) to investigate their alleged role in the shooting of Pansare and his wife.
The Maharashtra SIT sought custody of the three suspects following the emergence of their alleged links to Pansare’s murder. Investigation into murders of Lankesh and scholar M M Kalburgi — in Dharwad in 2015 — indicated that one of the two countrymade guns used to shoot Pansare was used in the murders of Kalburgi and Lankesh. The second gun used in the shooting of the Pansare couple was found to have been used to shoot dead rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune in 2013.
The Maharashtra SIT in 2016 arrested two persons in connection with Pansare’s murder — Virendra Tawde, a doctor-turned-activist of radical group Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti; and Sameer Gaikwad, also associated with the Sanstha. Tawde and Gaikwad were granted bail, but Tawde continues to be in prison since CBI charged him with being a key conspirator in Dabholkar’s murder.
The three who have now been taken into custody by the Maharashtra SIT allegedly attended arms training organised by a covert unit of a radical Hindutva group in Karnataka and Maharashtra months prior to Pansare’s murder, probe into Lankesh’s murder by the Karnataka SIT revealed, sources said.
Amol Kale, a former Pune convenor of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, was arrested in May for allegedly planning and executing Lankesh’s murder. He is also accused by the CBI of playing a pivotal role in the shooting of Dabholkar. Miskin and Baddi are from Karnataka’s Hubbali region and have a criminal record of involvement in communal violence. The two have been accused of facilitating Lankesh’s murder at the instance of Kale. Miskin and Baddi have also been named as the first two accused in the 2015 Kalburgi murder case by the Karnataka CID.