Two right-wing leaders, mentioned by in the “confession” statement of KT Naveen Kumar — the first person arrested in the journalist Gauri Lankesh murder case, said that they know the accused beforehand, according to a NDTV report.
Meanwhile, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing Lankesh’s killing case on Tuesday arrested a 26-year-old suspect, Parshuram Wagmare, from Sindhagi in Bijapur district of north Karnataka. The police, however, denied speculations about him being the assassin.
Wagmare is the sixth person to be arrested in the Gauri Lankesh’s murder case. The five others arrested in the case were KT Naveen Kumar alias Hotte Manja from Mandya district, Amol Kale and Amit Degvekar from Maharashtra, Manohar Edve and Sujeeth Kumar alias Praveen from Karnataka.
Inspector General of Police B K Singh, who heads the SIT, told PTI that nothing has emerged during the probe so far to suggest that Waghmare had shot Lankesh.
“No. That thing has not come in our investigation,” he said amid speculation in the media that Waghmare could be the assassin.
Naveen Kumar, the founder of the Hindu Yuva Sena, was the first person to be arrested in February this year in Bengaluru for selling illegal bullets. In his 12-page statement — part of the chargesheet filed in the case last week — Naveen Kumar, a resident of Maddur in Mandya district of Karnataka, mentioned his meeting with Sri Rama Sena chief Pramod Muthalik, a man who was arrested for the 2009 attack on young boys and girls in a pub in Mangalore. Muthalik and all others, charged for the attack, were acquitted earlier this year due to lack of evidence.
“Sri Ram Sene doesn’t have any presence in Mandya district and has no links with him (Naveen). But he is a Hindu organizer and I know him. I have met him two or three times”, Pramod Muthalik was quoted by NDTV as saying.
The chargesheet filed based on Naveen’s statement claims that after getting his phone number from Mohan Gowda, the spokesperson for Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, one of the accused Praveen contacted Naveen to buy bullets and a gun. Naveen’s statement also states that Gowda had vouched for Praveen. However, Gowda refused the claim by saying, “I have known Naveen for two years now. We have invited him to our programmes. But I don’t know who Praveen is. I haven’t introduced the two.”
Gowda and Muthalik released the first page of a letter from the Forensic Science Department in Gandhinagar where Naveen took a polygraph test in April, at a press conference in Bengaluru on Tuesday. The letter contains the summary of Naveen’s verbal statement that he was not involved in the Lankesh’s murder case since he neither supplied the gun nor the bullets. In retaliation, the SIT officials released the second page of the letter which clearly mentions that Naveen refused to take the polygraph test.
While probing the case, police had found that there was also a plan to kill Mysuru-based rationalist Bhagavan after Lankesh as both were considered “anti-Hindu”. Apart from Praveen, three others who were alleged in the plot to murder Bhagawan had been taken into custody. Amit Degewekar, who was reportedly linked with the 2008 Malegaon blast case in Maharashtra, is one among them.
Senior Journalist Gauri Lankesh, a hardcore critic of the right-wing group, was murdered in September last year outside her home in Bengaluru.