Gauri Lankesh Murder: SIT Denies Link Between Malegaon Suspects And Sanatan Sanstha
Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh has denied The Indian Express report published on Thursday (9 May 2019) which said that four absconding members of Hindutva outfit Abhinav Bharat trained several suspects linked to Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu-extremist group, in relation to making IED bombs at training camps across the country between 2011-2016.
The SIT in a statement said, “SIT has not found in its investigation or mentioned in the chargesheet any link to Sadhvi Pragya/ Malegaon blasts/ Abhinav Bharat. There is no shred of evidence to suggest the same. No documents purporting the same have been submitted to the Hon’ble Court.”
What did Indian Express report say?
The Indian Express earlier said that the SIT report mentions four absconding members of Abhinav Bharat, including Ramji Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, who are among the 13 accused along with BJP’s Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, trained Sanathan Santha members accused of Killing Gauri Lankesh.
The newspaper earlier said that the SIT report, based on information shared by three men arrested in the Lankesh case, and four members who attended training camps, described the presence of a “Babaji” and four “Gurujis” at the camps. The Babaji, after his arrest in November 2018, was identified as Abhinav Bharat member Suresh Nair – who is an accused in the 2007 Ajmer dargah blast case too.
Citing sources, it mentioned that three other trainers at Sanstha-linked camps were Dange, Kalsangara and Ashwini Chauhan, all “proclaimed offenders”. The fifth member who attended the camp was identified as Prathap Hazra, who is a member of Hindutva outfit Bhavani Sena in West Bengal.
According to the newspaper report, the SIT prepared portraits of “guest trainers”, based on descriptions provided by the arrested suspects and witnesses in the Lankesh case.
One of the suspects of the case had revealed that the IED experts were members of the ‘Aseemanand group’, in a reference to former RSS worker Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Aseemanand. Aseemanand was earlier arrested in relation to blasts in the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blast cases, but was letter acquited by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court.
The other suspects who were trained to make bombs by Abhinav Bharat men are Amit Degwekar, Virendra Tawade, Sharad Kalaskar, Shrikant Pangarkar, Vasudev Suryavanshi, Ganesh Miskin, Amit Baddi and Bharat Kurne.
The Indian Express report further mentions that the fugitives who were on run since 2018, joined Sanatan Sanstha to train others in making bombs, during the time ENT doctor and Sanatan Sanstha activist Virendra Tawade was heading the secret training camp between 2011 and 2016.
SIT Probe into Lankesh Murder Case
In an additional chargesheet filed last year, the SIT has named 18 accused involved in the murder of Lankesh, form Hindu extremist group Sanatan Sanstha, according to an NDTV report.
So far, 18 accused have been arrested in relation to Lankesh murder case.