The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of author and critic Gauri Lankesh revealed that the killers had 2-3 more targets including actor Prakash Raj and were carrying out reconnaissance at the targets’ place of work and residence to find out the pattern and daily schedule of their targets.
SIT sources were hesitant to talk about the ongoing investigation, but a source pointed out that a senior Goan Congress leader and a Mumbai-based freelance journalist, highly critical of the Sri Ram Sene, the VHP and the RSS, were on their hit list. SIT sources are unwilling to part with any further information on the grounds that it could jeopardize the ongoing investigation. “There was a larger conspiracy to strike terror in the hearts of dissident voices and silence them. They were planning to target actors, media persons and politicians. There is an unnamed group which has activists and members in 5-6 states that actually carries out the hits.
The killers had visited the home of the Goan Congress politician twice to note down details of his vehicle number and other information required to carry out the hit.
Meanwhile reacting to the reports that the killers of author Gauri Lankesh had planned to kill him as well, actor Prakash Raj on Wednesday said his voice will grow stronger.
Sharing a news report of the SIT, probing Gauri killings, investigations findings that there were plans to eliminate him on Twitter, Raj hit out at his haters and expressed concerns over forces trying to silence his voice.
“Bengaluru: Gauri killers planned to eliminate actor Prakash Rai, reveals SIT probe… ….Look at the narrative to silence voices.. my VOICE will grow more STRONGER now .. you cowards …do you think you will get away with such HATE POLITICS,” tweeted Raj.
According to the SIT findings, as reported by a Kannada news channel, Gauri’s killers had conspired to kill Raj after he targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP on public platforms.
The reports suggest that the killers had also planned to eliminate Jnanpeetha awardee Girish Karnad and they had named it as ‘operation kaka’.
Gauri Lankesh, a Left-leaning journalist, and a strong Hindutva critic was shot dead from a close range by motorcycle-borne assailants in front of her house on September 5 last year.
Parashuram Waghmore, picked up from Vijayapura district in north Karnataka has confessed to killing the journalist-activist. The 26-year-old claimed he didn’t know who he was killing when he pumped four bullets into Gauri in front of her house in R R Nagar, Bengaluru, on the night of September 5, 2017, SIT sources said on Friday. “I was told in May 2017 I had to kill someone to save my religion. I agreed. I didn’t know who the victim was. Now I feel that I should have not killed the woman,” sources quoted Waghmore as confessing to the SIT.
The 650-page charge sheet filed before the First Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate details the role of T Naveen Kumar as an accomplice in the murder, which triggered nationwide outrage.
As per the confession, accessed by CNN-News18, Kumar, the first accused in the murder probe, started off as someone who would run WhatsApp groups to spread messages to ‘save Hinduism’.
Kumar said that he had attended a workshop in June 2017 in Ponda, Goa (where the Sanatan Sanstha has its ashram) where he first talked about why “we need to weaponise ourselves” to safeguard Hinduism.
It was there that he came in touch with one Mohan Gowda, a Hindu Janajagruti Samiti activist from Bengaluru, who told him that there were “many like-minded individuals” who share that opinion. He also told Gowda he had a gun and bullets with him for this purpose, as per the confession.
Kumar was subsequently introduced to one ‘Praveen’, who went to his house to check out the bullets. Then, in August 2017, he attended a programme in Bengaluru and had a chat with ‘Praveen’, who told him about the plot to kill Lankesh.
The SIT also interrogated Vijayapura district Sri Rama Sene Chief Rakesh Math for over six hours last week to examine his connections and links with the alleged shooter Parashuram Waghmore.
The investigation came hours after the Sri Rama Sene published a Facebook post, appealing for people to financially support Waghmore’s family.