Bengaluru, Jun 16: The Special Investigation Team probing the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh has summoned Rakesh Math, the Vijayapura district president of fringe right-wing outfit Sri Ram Sene, for questioning. Notably, Math and Parashuram Waghmare, the suspected shooter of Lankesh, were allegedly involved in hoisting a Pakistani flag outside the tahsildar office in their hometown Sindagi of Vijayapura district in Karnataka in January 2012.
The SIT decided to question Math since Waghmare was an active member of the Hindutva organisation linked to moral policing in parts of Karnataka. The probe is being conducted to find out whether Math was involved in Lankesh’s assassination and whether he “brainwashed” Waghmare to participate in the plot. Lankesh was shot dead at the entrance of her Bengaluru residence on September 5 last year.
Meanwhile, Sri Ram Sene founder and chief Pramod Muthalik has distanced himself and his organisation from Waghmare and the killing of Lankesh and other rationalists. “There is no connection between Sri Ram Sene and Waghmare. He is neither our member nor our worker. This I say very clearly,” said Muthalik.
The Sene chief told PTI that when the Pakistani flag hoisting issue had come to light, it was said that Waghmare was a member of Sri Ram Sene. However, he said he has proved that Waghmare was not a member of Sri Ram Sene but of RSS. “I had shared his pictures sporting RSS uniform. I had said at that time that he is an RSS worker and not of Sri Ram Sene,” Muthalik said.
Parashuram Waghmare’s father Ashok Waghmare, who had come from Sindagi to Bengaluru to see his son, said he was innocent but could not recall where he (Parashuram) was on September 5, the day Lankesh was shot dead.
Math said he came to Bengaluru following a notice to appear for the inquiry. “I received a notice stating that my presence was required for the investigation (of Lankesh murder case),” Math was quoted as saying by a TV channel.
He also said he has been Parashuram Waghmare’s friend and his arrest was quite shocking. Adding further, he expressed confidence that his friend would come out clean.
Math has denied his involvement in the killing and said he has only been doing organisational work.