Four years after journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in south Bengaluru, the Karnataka police seems to have made no headway in the murder case. No one has been convicted in the case so far. And the trial against the accused is yet to start. Till now, 18 people have been arrested in the case, The News Minute reported.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the trial is yet to begin due to multiple delays caused by several pleas filed by the accused, the accused being lodged in different jails across the country, and the coronavirus situation.
Gauri, who was the editor of weekly Kannada tabloid Gauri Lankesh Patrike, was a vocal critic of Hindutva. She was murdered on 5 September, 2017 allegedly by members of a radical hindutva group.
Following Gauri’s Death, State Forms SIT to Probe Murder
Gauri’s death had sparked widespread outrage and protests across the nation. Following her death, the then Congress government had constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the murder.
Kavita Lankesh, the sister of Gauri has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Karnataka High Court (HC) order that quashed the charges filed against an accused Mohan Nayak, under Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act 2000 (KCOCA). The HC had passed the order on 22 April 2021.
Nayak was arrested on 19 July, 2018, for providing shelter to the main accused and the shooter. The Karnataka HC on 25 July 2021 rejected the bail pleas moved by 6 of the accused. The main accused and the shooter, however did not seek for bail. Now although all the accused are behind bars, none have been convicted yet.
On 10 March 2018, the SIT team that included IPS officers MN Anucheth and P Rangappa, made its first arrest. Naveen Kumar, who belonged to the Hindu Yuva Sene was arrested for being involved in the conspiracy to murder Gauri. The SIT filed its first chargesheet in the case on 30 May against Naveen Kumar.
Five months later, on 23 November 2018, the SIT filed its second chargesheet to the Principal Civil and Sessions court. The chargesheet named 18 people as accused in the case, The News Minute reported.
SIT Holds Hindutva Org Sanatan Sanstha Responsible for Gauri’s Murder
While the SIT identified Parashuram Waghmare as the shooter, the others including Amol Kale, Amit Degwekar and Sujith Kumar were named for being the ‘masterminds of the crime’ and for arming and training the assailants. In its 9, 235 page chargesheet, the SIT also held the Hindu extremist organisation, Sanatan Sanstha, responsible for the murder of Gauri Lankesh.
According to The News Minute, the SIT also said that the murder of Gauri Lankesh was linked to the murders of other left-leaning activists and rationalists like Professor MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. Police have subsequently concluded that the same team was responsible all the murders
The SIT has reportedly stated in court that Gauri Lankesh was attacked for strongly opposing Hindutva in her articles and speeches. The SIT has also recovered a dairy from one of the accused Amol Kale, that lists 36 names of people including writers, literature experts, activists. Some of the names on the list include Girish Karnad, KS Bhagwan, Yogesh Master, Banajagere Jayaprakash, Chandrashekhar Patil, Patil Putappa, Baragur Ramachandrappa, Nataraj Huliyar, and Chennaveera Kanavi. Since the list was recovered, the state has provided police protection to most people whose name is on it.
In August 2019, the centre awarded the SIT with the Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence for the investigation in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.
‘New Charge sheets Filed Against Accused for Procuring SIM Cards using Fake Identities’
According to a Indian Express report, in the past few weeks, new charge sheets have been filed against the accused for procuring SIM cards using fake identities and for using support networks for organizing secret operations to kill the journalist.
In August, a chargesheet was filed against the main accused, Amol Kale, for illegal procurement of SIM cards. He had allegedly used them to communicate with his team to plan and execute the murder. Police from the Kushalnagar area have also reportedly questioned two of the main accused – Mohan Nayak and Sujeet Kumar, over the procurement of SIM cards
The probe also found a former BSNL official in Kushalnagar responsible for allegedly providing multiple SIM cards to members of radical group Sanathan Sanstha without following due procedures.
However, the Sanstha has on several occasions in the past denied any links to the accused or the case.
This article first appeared on The QUINT