Parashuram Waghmare, the last of the six suspects arrested in connection with the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, was her assassin, the SIT probing the sensational case said.
Forensic examination can lead to such a conclusion when the hammer of a gun has left identical marks at the rear of a bullet even if the weapon itself has not been found.
- Report has confirmed that (rationalists) Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Lankesh were murdered with the same weapon.
- The Gang has a network in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.
- Gauri Lankesh was shot dead at the entrance of her Bengaluru residence on September 5 last year.
Two eye-witnesses, including a journalism student and a daily wager, had seen Parashuram Waghamre on September 5 near Gauri Lankesh’s house where she was shot dead that evening, sources in the Special Investigation Team (SIT) said.
“Waghmare shot Lankesh and the forensic report has confirmed that (rationalists) Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Lankesh were murdered with the same weapon,” a senior officer in the SIT told PTI wishing not to be named.
“After the Parashuram Waghmare’s arrest, the duo were called again for identity parade, and the arrested were shown to them one by one. Both identified Waghmare, who is said to have fired at Gauri Lankesh,” an officer from SIT said.
The official said the organisation, composed of people drawn from Hindu right groups, had around 60 members spread across at least five states but had no name. “We discovered that this gang has a network in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. We did not find their Uttar Pradesh connection so far,” the official said.
Meanwhile, efforts are on to nab Nihal alias Dada, one of the prime accused involved in the crime,” the officer added.
“The gang had almost reached the last phase of killing Prof K S Bhagawan (Kannada writer) when we nabbed them,” the officer said.
The Karnataka police had uncovered the plot to kill Mr Bhagwan recently, and it was during the interrogation of the four arrested accused that they grew suspicious about their involvement in Gauri Lankesh’s killing.
He said though it recruited people from hardline Hindutva organisations like Maharashtra-based Hindu Jagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha, these outfits may not be directly responsible for the killings.
Both organisations had denied their role in the killing of the three.
Other than Mr Bhagvan and Girish Karnad, former minister and literatteur B TLalitha Naik, rationalist C S Dwarakanath and pontiffVeerabhadra Channamalla Swamy of Nidumamidi Mutt were also onthe hit list. All of them have been quite vocal in criticising the Hindu right.
Kalburgi, a Sahitya Akademi Award winner and a doughty campaigner against superstition in Hinduism, was shot dead in August 2015 at his home in Karnataka’s Dharwad district.
In February the same year, Govind Pansare, a Left politician and rationalist, was shot at and fatally injured by unidentified assailants in Kolhapur in Maharashtra.