THE Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh has arrested a man who allegedly took a house on rent in Bengaluru to facilitate the stay of four people involved in the killing.
Mohan Nayak was a full-time activist of the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and was primarily involved in fund-raising activities for the Sanstha and the HJS.
The social media profile of Mohan Nayak indicates that he has been associated with right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti for years, and posted dozens of messages from Sanatan Sanstha and HJS publications on his social media account, reports the Indian Express.
Nayak was actively involved in activities of the Sanathan Sanstha and provided logistical support to the actual killers. He was also involved in fund-raising in Goa and Belagavi, the money which was routed for clandestine activities, police sources revealed.
Nayak and his team used to collect donations from unsuspecting Hindus in Goa and Belagavi for various purposes like providing free food and shelter to the poor, homeless and destitute or for cow protection or to fund gaushalas. Most of this money was diverted to illegal activity like procuring weapons, claims the SIT.
“The SIT has arrested one person, Mohan Nayak, 50, from Dakshina Kannada district,” said DCP M N Anucheth, the chief investigating officer of the SIT. Nayak was arrested on July 18 and produced in court on Thursday. He has been remanded in six days police custody.
Police sources said the SIT’s probe led to Nayak, a resident of Dakshina Kannada, after a phone link to him was found in the diary of Amol Kale, 37, who was arrested by the SIT in May. The sources said that Nayak took a house on rent around 15 km from Lankesh’s house to accommodate four persons directly involved in the murder.
Nayak is the seventh person arrested in the murder case.
According to Bangalore Mirror, the SIT probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case is examining the role of 50-year-old man identified as Mohan Nayak from Dakshin Kannada district. He is suspected to be a close accomplice of Amol Kale, who played a major role in plotting the murder conspiracy.
The SIT is tight-lipped on details but it is suspected that Nayak had given logistical support to Amol Kale, the alleged mastermind of the conspiracy in Belagavi.
It was in Belagavi that Kale used to meet the other accused, including the alleged shooter Parashuram Waghmare, and had made preparations for eliminating writer-cum-activist Gauri Lankesh, reports Bangalore Mirror.
Sources said that Nayak had helped Kale when he was based in Khade Bazaar locality in Belagavi and was overseeing the Karnataka operations of his clandestine radical outfit, reports Bangalore Mirror.
Nayak also reportedly helped the accused set up a base in Bengaluru on Mysuru Rroad where Waghmare moved in a couple of weeks before he allegedly shot Gauri at her residence in Rajarajeshwari Nagar.
SIT sources had earlier claimed that they were trying to locate the people who provided logistical support to the accused in Bengaluru after they arrived a couple of days before the murder on September 5. They put Gauri under surveillance and conducted a recce of her residence and office, says Bangalore Mirror.
As of now, the SIT has arrested six others in connection with the case – KT Naveen Kumar from Mandya, Suchit Kumar from Shivamogga, Parashuram Waghmare and Manohar Edave from Vijayapura, Amol Kale from Pune and Amit Degwekar from Goa.
It is suspected that Kale was the mastermind along with Degwekar, closely associated with the Ponda-based ashram Sanatan Sanstha in Goa that had come under the scanner for the Malegaon and Margao blasts in 2006 and 2009.
Naveen Kumar, who had founded the Hindu Yuva Sena, was the first to be caught in Bengaluru while attempting to sell ammunition.
The four others were arrested for planning to kill Kannada writer K.S. Bhagawan, also known for his anti-Hindutva stand.