Gauri Lankesh murder: SIT takes into custody right-wing group founder
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh has taken into custody a 37-year-old man. KT Naveen Kumar, arrested by Bengaluru Police for possessing 15 rounds of .32 calibre cartridges, had founded a radical right-wing group called the Hindu Yuva Sene. The group isn't seemingly affiliated to any other. Kumar is suspected to have been an accomplice in the murder.
How the murder unfolded
On September 5, 2017, as Lankesh reached home and got down from the car, a man came and fired at her. She tried to run, but he chased her and shot several more times. She was the daughter of poet-turned-journalist P Lankesh. 'Gauri Lankesh Patrike,' a tabloid edited by her, was known for its vocal criticism of communal violence, caste system and right-wing politics.
The link to Hindu right-wing groups
Five names associated to the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha emerged as key suspects. Four of them have Interpol Red Notices against them for their alleged involvement in earlier crimes. However, the Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti claimed neither was involved. Sanjiv Panalekar, Hindu Vidhidyana Parishad secretary, said SIT should instead investigate "Naxalism, family dispute, property dispute, fights, and source of funding for her activities."
Similarities to murders of other scholars and rationalists
A preliminary analysis of the bullets found in Lankesh's murder found they're from a similar pistol used to kill scholar MM Kalburgi in 2015. There were similarities in style too: in both, assailants arrived on motorcycles and killed them outside their homes. Later, it emerged that the same gun may have been used in the killing of rationalists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar too.
Police rules out Lankesh's profession as motive
Police ruled out professional career as a motive of the murder. "All other angles including personal are still open," they said. The case was eventually handed over to an SIT, which released sketches of two main suspects. Both suspects are between 25-35 years of age, officials said. "Before committing the crime, the suspects had stayed in the city at least for a week."
Kumar 'definitely an accomplice' in Lankesh murder
Kumar, who's now in custody, hails from Maddur in Mandya, Karnataka, and founded the Hindu Yuva Sene in 2015. "We had received a tip-off about Kumar, and we shared the information with the city police, which arrested him. Upon interrogation, it was found that he was an accomplice in the crime and hence we sought custody," an SIT officer said.