Are Lankesh-Kalburgi murders linked? Same gun used in both
A preliminary forensic analysis of the bullets found in the September 5 shooting of journalist Gauri Lankesh has found that these bullets are from a similar 7.65-mm countrymade pistol which was used to kill scholar MM Kalburgi in 2015. This information has been conveyed to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that is investigating the murder. Are these murders linked? Read on to know.
Gauri Lankesh was a senior journalist and Gauri Lankesh Patrike's editor, who frequently criticized Hindutva groups. She was shot dead outside her home on the night of September 5. MM Kalburgi, a scholar, rationalist and teacher, was also shot dead outside his home on the morning of August 20, 2015. He was known for his strong stand against superstitious practices and right-wing groups.
There is reportedly a similarity in which Lankesh and Kalburgi were killed, that is, by assailants who arrived on motorcycles and killed them outside their homes. Investigators compared the "ballistic signature" on the bullets and cartridges found at both murder sites. It was found that one common gun was used for the killings, suggesting that a common outfit may be behind the murders.
Comparison of forensic finding from the Lankesh-Kalburgi murders with those from Maharashtra rationalist Govind Pansare's 2015 killing has suggested that the same gun may have been used in the three killings. Ballistic evidence from rationalist Narendra Dabholkar's 2013 murder has revealed that the same gun was used for Pansare's killing too. Based on this, the question of whether all these murders are linked arises.
Meanwhile, the SIT suspects that a single bike-borne killer aged 30-35 might have followed Gauri from her office. Further, the killer might've been aware about the surroundings. He allegedly wanted to make sure whether anyone else was there at home with Gauri. He first came by the house at about 3.30pm on September 5, and then again at 7:15pm.
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, who had known Lankesh personally, has been overseeing the SIT's investigation. The government has also announced a Rs. 10 lakh reward for anyone who provides information regarding the killing. With assembly elections scheduled in the next six months and the uproar the case has generated, the Congress-led Siddaramaiah government has realized the urgency of solving it.