One Year Of Gauri Lankesh's Murder: Critical Developments In The Case
A year ago, at around half past eight in the night, almost all the TV screens had a breaking news headline. The bustle in the newsrooms across the country was about the death of journalist-turned-activist Gauri Lankesh. The journalist was shot dead from a point-blank range outside her house. As the family marks her one-year death anniversary, Special Investigation Team (SIT) claims that they are on the last stages of investigations in the case.
The editor of a Karnataka based daily, Lankesh Patrike, Gauri was shot dead for allegedly having staunch views against the ‘Hindutva brand of politics’. The assailant, who was waiting for Lankesh outside her house, fired seven shots at her. Four missed Gauri and two bullets hit her in the chest, one on the forehead. Gauri died on the spot.
“Happy that the case went to SIT”
Gauri Lankesh’s sister, Kavitha Lankesh says that she remembers the fateful night when the incident happened. She also says that she is happy with the progress in the case so far, “which is taking place without political interference”.
Emphasising the faith they have on the probing team, she said, “We had immense faith in the investigating agency of Karnataka. Some people wanted the case to be handed over to the CBI but see now the CBI and also the CID are asking for information from the SIT to solve the murder cases of Dabholkar and Kalburgi,” she said while speaking to Economic Times.
The case was handed to SIT
Soon after the journalist’s cold-blooded murder, the case was handed over to SIT by then Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. The initial probe in the case was moving slowly. For six months, the SIT was in the dark, and no arrests were made.
The only evidence that SIT had was the CCTV camera in which the attacker was seen holding the gun by both his hands and later fired shots at her.
With the hope of finding the needle in the haystack, the SIT then started to collect call details from 15 days prior to Lankesh’s death. The investigation team heard almost 1.5 crores calls made by 100 telephone numbers, reports The Times of India.
The first breakthrough came sometime in February when a local gunrunner, identified as Naveen Kumar- a member of a right-wing organisation, Hindu Yuva Sena was arrested by the police in connection with illegal possession of a gun. But, while he was being interrogated, he confessed to being linked to the Gauri Lankesh Murder case. However, this was just a ray of light that the SIT followed.
Development in Gauri Lankesh’s case so far
The first important catch– While interrogation, SIT figured out that he had very little knowledge of the hierarchy of the commanding leaders. Naveen used to only speak to a person called Praveen over the phone. By tracking Praveen’s calls, the cops figured out that he was always on the run and he always called Naveen from different telephone booth each atleast 100 km away from the previous place, reports the Quint.
Second lead– For the next two months, the cops were made to hear Praveen’s voice several times, so that they recognise his voice and even if he calls from other numbers they should be able to figure it out. After two months of hide and seek, cops were able to arrest him. Praveen’s arrest led to three more prominent arrests of Amole Kale, Amit Degwekar and Manohar Edave. Amole turned out to be responsible for planning and executing Gauri Lankesh’s murder, Degwekar was allegedly the financer, and Manohar was supposedly the recruiter for the gangs in Karnataka.
Confiscation of two diaries– At this time, the SIT found two diaries from Amol and Amits’s house in which there were more name of the people they had planned to kill. According to the investigation team, there was a rough blueprint in the diary for the murder of Gauri Lankesh as well. By this time, there were several names with the police in connection with Gauri Lankesh’s case, but the question of “Who killed Gauri Lankesh?” was still unanswered.
The arrest of the gunman– The investigation of the three arrested revealed a name, Parshuram Waghmore. The SIT after checking his whereabouts arrested him from his house. The 26-year-old confessed to his crime. He said, at the time of the murder he did not know whom he was killing. He was just told to kill somebody as to save his religion.
“I was told in May 2017 I had to kill someone to save my religion. I agreed. I didn’t know who the victim was. Now I feel that I should not have killed the woman,” he said.
The alleged linking of Sanatan Sanstha- after the alleged confession of Waghmore to SIT, the team also questioned Sri Ram Sena founder, Pramod Mauthali as a photo of Waghmore and Muthalik together had gone viral.
However, Muthalik denied having any ties with Waghmore. He claimed that he (Waghmore) had attended several functions and many people come and approach him for pictures so the picture could be one of that. With the help of forensic science- recently, a Gujarat forensic lab confirmed that Parashuram Waghmare was the one who shot and killed Gauri Lankesh last year.
During the investigation, it was concluded that the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare in neighbouring Maharashtra were all inter-related. The SIT also got to know that the same weapon was used to kill the three. It is also believed that Amol Kale and Amit Degwekar were also linked to all three murders.
Gauri Lankesh to be awarded
The activist and journalist Gauri Lankesh will be honoured at The Bayeux-Calvados Awards for a “reporter killed on duty”. The ceremony will be held in at Bayeux in France on October 8. Meanwhile, Lankesh’s weekly publication Lankesh Patrike returned to business on 5 September 2018 with a new name, Nyaya Patha, and a special issue.