SIT claims Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

Journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh’s name was on an apparent ‘hitlist’ that had the names of 33 other people, including theatre personality Girish Karnad, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Karnataka police has revealed.

Also Read: Plot to kill Lankesh took root at Sanathan Sanstha’s Hindu Conclave in June 2017

According to an Indian Express report, two such ‘hitlists’ were found in the possession of Amol Kale (36), who was arrested in May. Lankesh’s name was second on a list that  had a total of eight names. Theatre legend Girish Karnad’s name topped the list. The other list included 26 targets.

Also Read: SIT arrests teacher Suresh Kumar, formerly the prime witness for non-cooperation and misleading the Gauri Lankesh murder probe

The SIT believes the lists were drawn up in July 2016. Lankesh was shot dead outside her residence on September 5, 2017.

The SIT has arrested two more suspects in relation to the killing, taking the total numbers of suspects arrested in the case, to nine.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder: SIT uncovers covert pro-Hindutva outfit that recruits assassins

A Mangalore-based state government employee working for the education department was recently arrested for training the killers how to fire a gun, according to the Indian Express.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killer

All the suspects are linked to extremist Hindu groups such as Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) and were active members of both the groups.

Also Read: 36 Targets and 50 Shooters: Gauri Lankesh Murder Suspect’s Diary Reveals Chilling Details

Amol Kale, in whose possession the diary was found, is a resident of Pune and a former convenor of the HJS.

The SIT said that Lankesh and others on the lists were chosen as targets because of their opposition towards radical Hindutva and superstitious practices.

All the people mentioned in the hit list have been provided state security.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder shooter Parashuram Waghmore linked to Sri Rama Sene

“These lists were some kind of tentative collection of names compiled at the end of discussions by a small group of people. They seem to be random lists which would undergo changes. Though Lankesh was named at no. 2, she was targeted first,’’ reported the Indian Express, quoting a police source, because she was apparently a soft and easy target.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh shooter kept in house rented by man from Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha

Mysuru-based writer and academic K.S. Bhagwan, Kannada writers Yogesh Master, Chandrashekhar Patil and Banajagere Jayaprakash and former Karnataka backward castes commission chairman C.S. Dwarkanath were also listed as targets of the group.

Nidumamidi Swamiji, a seer opposed to superstition, was also a target.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh killers planned to kill actor Prakash Raj, a Goan Congress leader and a Mumbai-based journalist

The police have also provided security to literary figures Patil Putappa, Nataraj Huliyar, Baragur Ramachandrappa and Chennaveera Kanavi. Rationalist Narendra Nayak and S.M. Jamdar, the former IAS officer and proponent of separate religion status for the Lingayat community, were also provided state security.

Also Read: Probe into Gauri Lankesh’s murder reveals links to extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha

Other documents found in Kale and associate Sujeet Kumar’s possession reveal a network of at least 30 people engaged in planning and execution of killings of those opposed to Hindutva.

Also Read: Sanathan Sanstha a nodal agency for radicals involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, money for hits, was routed through donations made to Sanstha

Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti

Sanatan Sanstha, established in 1999, has been accused in several high-profile killings and 2008 Thane and Vashi bomb-blasts, claims a report in the The Wire.

Also Read: Top leaders of pro-Hindutva outfit including a retired Indian Army Colonel hatched Gauri Lankesh murder plot, claims SIT 

A member of the organisation is a key accused in the murder of writer and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.

The Sanathan Sanstha had also been accused of being responsible for an explosion in Goa in 2009, and for bombings in Vashi, Thane and Panvel in 2007, according to a submission which was part of a plea filed by Vinay Rokade in the Bombay High Court, which sought a ban on the organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Also Read: Top leaders of pro-Hindutva extremist outfit hatched Gauri Lankesh murder plot

In his petition, Rokade had told the court that the state government had forwarded a proposal to the Centre in 2012 recommending a ban on the organisation, but that the Centre did not act on it.

The Maharashtra government’s proposal was based on Anti-Terrorism Squad reports and inputs.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder accused confesses to being indoctrinated at Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha other Hindu outfits involved

“The government of Maharashtra has reached to the conclusion that Sanatan Sanstha organisation is liable to be banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act,” the government had said in an affidavit filed in connection with the case in 2012.

The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, registered in 2002, is an offshoot of the Sanstha. The HJS’s stated aim is to establish a ‘Hindu nation’.

Source: The Wire

Sanathan Sanstha was a nodal agency for radicals involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, money for hits, was routed through donations made to the Sanstha

Alleged mastermind of group involved in Gauri murder took a house on rent in Belagavi; other accused met him there, reports Bangalore Mirror.

According to a report in the Bangalore Mirror, the ongoing SIT probe in Gauri Lankesh murder case has revealed that Amol Kale, the alleged mastermind of the group that killed her, was active in Karnataka since 2013. Kale was residing in the garb of a social worker at a modest rented room in Khade Bazar in Belagavi.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder: SIT uncovers covert pro-Hindutva outfit that recruits assassins

The Bangalore Mirror report claims that “Kale had been focusing on Karnataka much before the Gauri Lankesh’s murder. The investigation agency suspects that he was working for a Goa-based organisation Sanathan Sanstha that acted as a sort of nodal agency for this underground group of radicals,” sources added.

Kale was initially arrested from Belagavi in the last week of May and his Pune residence was subsequently raided by the SIT in an attempt to locate the firearm used to murder the writer and activist.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killer

“It is a modest one-room kitchen set up in Khade Bazar. It is inside a maze of streets and Kale had taken it on rent more than four years back. He used to stay there and once in a while go to Pune and Goa,” said SIT officials.

The SIT officials have identified owner of the house who rented it to Kale and has recorded his statement. It has also been pointed out that all six accused so far arrested in the case, including KT Naveen Kumar, had visited Kale at Khade Bazar, reports Bangalore Mirror.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh shooter kept in house rented by man from Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha

Kale was reportedly in touch with multiple recruiters working for the outfit, who were identifying ‘like-minded’ youths at various spiritual and religious events to be roped into the outfit. Suchith Kumar alias Praveen, another accused arrested in the Gauri Lankesh case, was one such recruiter and Manohar Edave is also suspected to have been part of this group that arranged logistics for their operation, says the Bangalore Mirror report.

“We are collecting more details from some of the documents and diaries recovered from Kale,” sources added.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh killers planned to kill actor Prakash Raj, a Goan Congress leader and a Mumbai-based journalist

The proximity of Belagavi from Ponda in Goa is being ascribed as one of the main reasons for the group to choose Belagavi as Kale’s base. Amit Degvekar, another suspect arrested in the case, was an inmate of this Goa-based ashram and used to often visit Kale in Belagavi claims Bangalore Mirror.

Degwekar was also questioned in connection with 2009 Margao blasts and was also a roommate of Malgonda Patil. Patil died when a bomb accidentally exploded while being it was being transported on a scooter.

Also Read: Probe into Gauri Lankesh’s murder reveals links to extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha

“Belagavi also has a strong presence of fringe outfits like Sri Ram Sene. More details could be revealed only after we finish the probe. It seems some splinter right wing groups collaborated in murdering Gauri,” sources added.

As of now, the SIT has arrested six persons- Amol Kale, Amit Degwekar , Suchith Kumar , Manohar Edave, Parashuram Waghmare and KT Naveen Kumar for the Gauri Lankesh murder.

Also Read: Plot to kill Lankesh took root at Sanathan Sanstha’s Hindu Conclave in June 2017

Parashuram Waghmare, a 26-year-old from Vijayapura allegedly associated with Sri Ramsene is suspected to have been the shooter, who arrived with another accomplice outside Gauri Lankesh’s residence in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar and shot her dead on September 5, 2017.

According to an Indian Express report, the Hindutva extremist K T Naveen Kumar arrested in connection with the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh attended at least five different meetings of the Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), last year in Bengaluru and Maddur in Karnataka, and Ponda in Goa, investigations have found.

Source: Bangalore Mirror / Indian Express

Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killer

When Amit Degwekar, 38, a resident of the extreme radical Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha’s ashram in Ponda, Goa, was arrested in May this year for the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Karnataka Police had found in his possession several envelopes with varying amounts of cash. The money came to over Rs 1.5 lakh, reports the Indian Express.

The cash found in the envelopes had been withdrawn from a Sanatan Sanstha bank account and were meant to be given to field workers associated with a secret covert activities unit of the ultra-right wing Hindutva group, allegedly involved in assassinations and subversion in Karnataka and Maharashtra, the SIT has surmised, following investigations after the arrest of Degwekar and four others for direct involvement in Lankesh’s murder.

A bank pass book of the Sanstha account from where the money was drawn was found in Degwekar’s possession, it is learnt, says an Indian Express report.

Gauri Lankesh murder: Shooter kept in house rented by man linked to Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha

A promoter and editor of ‘Sanatan Prabhat’, a publication of the Sanstha, Degwekar, who worked ostensibly under supervision of a senior member of the Hindutva outfit, has been identified by SIT as a channel for funds to a covert activities group headed by Amol Kale, 37, a Pune resident and former convenor of Sanstha-affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS).

The probe has so far found that besides serving as a direct link for the covert group to the Sanatan Sanstha, Degwekar was also closely associated with Kale in plotting Lankesh’s murder. They ostensibly travelled together on one occasion to study her daily movements in the lead-up to the murder on the evening of September 5, 2017. Lankesh had at the time just returned from work to her home in Bengaluru.

Degwekar was arrested along with Kale and Manohar Edave, 29, a Karnataka resident, from Davangere in southern Karnataka in May this year. The SIT arrested them on the basis of information from a former HJS activist identified as Sujeet Kumar, 38.

The SIT had arrested Sujeet for allegedly playing a central role in organising logistics for the murder.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder accused confesses to being indoctrinated at Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha, other Hindu outfits involved

A resident at Sanatan Sanstha’s ashram for several years, Degwekar, according to investigators, was a roommate of Malgonda Patil, one of the two Sanstha men killed in October 2009 in a blast in Madgaon, Goa.

He was at the time allegedly ferrying an IED bomb to plant it at a Diwali celebration that was opposed by the Sanstha for apparently bein, g against Hindu belief.

The SIT says Degwekar is currently the only direct link between the Lankesh assassination plot and the Sanstha, although several others arrested have had strong links to the Sanstha in the past, or have been associated with the outfit through splinter radical Hindutva groups such as the Hindu Yuva Sena or Sri Rama Sena.

According to sources in SIT, the envelopes carrying cash found with Degwekar were meant to be given to field workers co-opted into the radical unit — such as the main shooter Parashuram Waghmare, 26, who was recruited from Sri Rama Sena in Vijayapura to shoot Lankesh; and K T Naveen Kumar, 37, recruited from Hindu Yuva Sena in Maddur to allegedly provide logistics for the murder, reports the Indian Express.

Also Read: Plot to kill Gauri Lankesh was hatched at Sanathan Sanstha’s Hindu Conclave in June 2017

In the course of his interrogation, Degwekar has reportedly claimed that cash found on him were payments made by subscribers of Sanatan Sanstha’s publications, which he claimed to promote by travelling around the country.

“My brother has been wrongly arrested. He is a member of Sanatan Sanstha for a decade now. He lives and works at the Sanatan Sanstha ashram in Goa,” Degwekar’s brother Viraj had said after his arrest in May.

Sanstha spokesperson Chethan Rajhans has stated: “Amit Degwekar promoted ‘Sanatan Prabhat’ – he used to come to the ashram for that work. The Sanstha is involved in spiritual enhancement of Hindus. We are not killers.”

Since identifying Parashuram Waghmare as the man who pulled the trigger on Lankesh and arresting him on June 11, the SIT has found that he was paid around Rs 13,000 to cover expenses after the murder. The assassin was also given a similar amounts by Kale after he was recruited two years ago and trained in 2017 in firing guns, sources said.

The probe has found that the men in charge of the covert activities group like Kale went to great lengths to ensure that operatives at the lower levels like Waghmare and Naveen Kumar had access to only a minimum amount of information about the assassination plots they were roped into.

On two occasions he came to Bengaluru — in July 2017 for a recce and in September 2017 for the murder — Waghmare was apparently taken blindfolded to hideouts.

Source: Indian Express

Gauri Lankesh murder: Main shooter kept in house rented by man linked to Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha

Investigations into the shooting of journalist Gauri Lankesh, 55, outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017, has thrown up more indications of links to the Goa, Ponda-based radical Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), following the arrest of six suspects in recent days, reports the Indian Express.

A Karnataka Police SIT, which is probing the case, has found that the alleged shooter, Parshuram Waghmare, 26, was called to Bengaluru in July 2017 and housed in a remote home on the outskirts of Bengaluru by a key planner of the murder, Amol Kale, 37, a Pune resident, and former HJS convenor.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder accused confesses to being indoctrinated at Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha other Hindu outfits involved

The house where Waghmare was kept was rented by a man Amit Degwekar associated with the Sanatan Sanstha and let out for a few days to “friends’’ who have emerged as the main suspects in the murder plot, the SIT has found.

The house, 20 km from Lankesh’s home, was used in July 2017 as a base by Waghmare and Kale — who are among six persons linked to Sanatan Sanstha and HJS who have been arrested for the murder — to survey the journalist’s home and prepare plans to kill her, the SIT has found.

The house was originally rented by building contractor Suresh Kumar for his family – wife and two children — around June 2017, but for around 10 days in July 2017 “the inhabitants of the house went away and the suspects lived there”, SIT sources told Indian Express.

The SIT stumbled upon the house after finding entries for locations, identities and contact numbers in diaries belonging to two arrested suspects —- Kale and Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, 38, a former HJS activist from Karnataka – after their arrest in May. The SIT has found that the contractor let out his home on “terms of friendship” after he was requested to do so by Sujeet.

The SIT confronted Suresh and he confessed to letting out his rented home to friends while his family was away for 10 days, but stated that he was not directly involved in the murder plot.

“Police came a few days ago and took Suresh away. The police asked us if we had seen any strangers living in the house but we had not seen anybody. They are a very decent family. I cannot believe they could be involved in any crime,’’ said Jagadish, an autodriver who lives next door.

Also Read: Plot to kill Gauri Lankesh was hatched at Sanathan Sanstha’s Hindu Conclave in June 2017

“We did not expect trouble because they were a family,’’ said the sister of the landlord, who lives next door and collects rent from the tenants of the building.

Suresh has now gone incommunicado. “They said they were going for a wedding,’’ the neighbour Jagadish said.

Suresh has provided a voluntary statement before a magistrate’s court stating that he provided shelter at his home for the suspects for several days after he was requested to do so by his friend Sujeet.

“We are treating him as a witness, and will review the situation if evidence emerges regarding his involvement in the murder plot,’’ an SIT official said, indicating that Suresh was acquainted with Sujeet through their association with Sanatan Sanstha.

Suresh is closely associated with Sanatan Sanstha and HJS along with many family members, including one family member who is a full time activist, police and SIT sources said.

“The suspect (Waghmare) was called to Bengaluru by other suspects and housed at a remote location by other suspects and together they watched the daily routine of the victim Gauri Lankesh and carried out recces on 3-4 occasions,’’ the SIT said in a remand application filed for the custody of Waghmare after his arrest on June 12.

The suspects are believed to have used two separate places as shelters in the planning phase and execution phase of the murder of Lankesh. After the house at Seegehalli Gate on Magadi Road was chosen for the planning phase, Kale and Waghmare traveled regularly to the location of Lankesh’s home by using routes not tracked by police cameras.

The suspects used at least one other shelter for the execution of the crime, SIT sources told Indian Express.

The Sanatan Sanstha has denied involvement in the Lankesh killing, claiming it had no idea what its members were up to.

Source: Indian Express

Bombay HC pulls up CBI, Maharashtra SIT for zero progress in Dabholkar, Pansare murders, heaps praise on Karnataka SIT for Gauri Lankesh probe

Bengaluru: The Bombay High Court has taken cognizance of the progress made in the investigation done by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), Karnataka in making a breakthrough in the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh and has pulled up the CBI and Maharashtra SIT for the tardy progress the two agencies have made in cracking the murder cases of Prof Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. The CBI is investigating the murder of Dabholkar, w ho shot down by two bike-borne assailants on August 20, 2013 in Pune. Pansare was fatally shot by two bike borne assailants in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015.

On Gauri case and the role of Karnataka SIT, it said, “The steps taken by them have resulted in the apprehension of certain persons from Maharashtra named as ‘accused’. The material in relation to those investigations has been shared with both agencies investigating the murder of Shri Narendra Dabholkar and Shri Govind Pansare. We are surprised that some of those accused of murdering two persons in the State of Karnataka have been apprehended from Maharashtra.

There have been seizures effected as well from within the State. There are several persons named and stated to be associated with a sanstha/institution. The base of this sanstha/institution is also known to the investigating agencies. It is stated that a strict vigil is maintained on the premises of this institution; on the movement of its members, followers and disciples. However, we find that the promptness with which an investigation in the latter murder has taken place, resulting in the apprehension of certain persons from Maharashtra would reveal that the same degree of alertness, promptitude and seriousness has prima facie not been noticed by us on the part of the investigating agencies in charge of investigation of the two murders in Maharashtra,” observed the Bombay High Court, while listening to the prayers of the two bereaved families of the late rationalists from Maharashtra on June 28.

The court observed that they would also not be satisfied with the CBI and Maharashtra SIT and officials present in court putting up their hands in disgust and stating that everything has reached a dead end. “In one country, if there are investigating agencies in one part or one state exhibiting the necessary zeal and enthusiasm, so also expediency, but earlier murders occurring in the very country, but in an adjoining State are not investigated fully even after nearly five years of their occurrence, we do not see why in a progressive State like the State of Maharashtra, requisite steps are not being taken particularly to trace out all accused, as alleged by the family members. Prima facie, there is a commonality in these dastardly acts of the extreme elements… Is there a lack of co­ordination, is there no proper analysis of the information generated at the ground level, are the investigations only restricted to intercepting mobile telephone calls or the financial network as complained, and a vigil has not resulted in anything beyond a watch and ward?” the Bombay High Court observed.

Meanwhile, families of Prof Dabholkar and Com Pansare told Deccan Chronicle that the work done by the Karnataka SIT in cracking the Gauri Lankesh murder case has given them hope that they would also get justice and closure in the two murders. “The work done by the CBI and SIT, Maharashtra in cracking my father’s murder and that of Com Pansare is lacklustre. The Karnataka SIT has rekindled our hopes,” said Dr Hamid Dabholkar, son of late Prof Dabholkar.

Source: Deccan Chronicle

SIT grills Sri Ram Sene’s Vijayapura chief Rakesh Math in Gauri Lankesh murder case

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case interrogated Vijayapura district Sri Rama Sene Chief Rakesh Math for over six hours on Saturday to examine his connections and links with 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.

The SIT team probing the case questioned Rakesh Math for over six hours, till late on Saturday night. They suspect Waghmore had been working for Sri Rama Sene and was an active member of the organisation.

“We are investigating his links to the Sri Rama Sene. We questioned him yesterday and if it is required, we will bring him in for questioning again,” said BK Singh, Addl Commissioner of Police (West), Bengaluru City.

The probe comes few days after Sri Rama Sene founder Pramod Muthalik categorically denied knowing Parashuram Waghmore or his links to the organisation, after a picture of the two of them standing side by side went viral on social media.

“It is easy for him to distance himself from the suspect but if you go to Bijapur, the situation is different. We cannot confirm it at the moment and we will be continuing this thorough investigation,” added BK Singh.

Meanwhile, sources suggested that the SIT probing the case had procured a confession from Waghmore. Sources in the SIT say that the Waghmore had allegedly gone to kill Gauri Lankesh a few days prior to September 5, but could not carry out the task as the journalist was already inside her house.

The probe team is now looking into three more suspects including Nihal alias Dada, who was one of the men who handed over the weapon to Waghmore.

“Hindusism is under grave threat, you have to kill the woman to save our religion,” Gauri Lankesh’s shooter Parashuram Waghmore was instructed by his handler

BENGALURU: The special investigation team probing the murder of Gauri Lankesh has said that Parashuram Waghmore, picked up from Vijayapura district in north Karnataka earlier this week, has confessed to killing the journalist-activist, reports the Times of India.

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.

Waghmore said he was brought to Bengaluru on September 3. He had been trained to use an airgun in Belagavi.

“I was first taken to a house. After two hours, a biker took me to show the house of the person I was to kill. The next day, the biker took me to another room in Bengaluru. Another man in the room took me to the R R Nagar house again on a bike and dropped me back. I was again taken to Gauri’s house in the evening, by the same biker who had taken me the previous day. I was told that I had to finish the job that day. But Gauri had returned from work by then and was inside her house,” he allegedly told the SIT.

On September 5, I was given the gun around 4pm by the biker and we went to her house in the evening. We arrived at the right time. Gauri had stopped her car in front of the gate and was opening it from inside when I approached her. I coughed lightly and she turned towards me. I pumped four bullets into her,” Waghmore has allegedly confessed. “We returned to the room and left the city the same night…” he said.

The SIT sources said at least three people were with Waghmore in Bengaluru at different times: one was the man who brought him to Bengaluru, the second was the biker who took him to Gauri’s house on three evenings and the third was the one who took him to Gauri’s house on September 4.

Waghmore said he didn’t know who the three men were. “Asking such a question is taboo,” he was quoted as saying. The sources, however, said the biker who accompanied Waghmore on the fateful evening was a tall, dark and stocky person. They refused to confirm or deny if it was Amol Kale, a Pune man who is among the arrested in the case.

The SIT sources said that the killer and his support men stayed in two places in the city. They said that at least three more people involved in Gauri’s killing are yet to be arrested.

Source: Times of India

Sanatan Sanstha Activist Accused in Lankesh Murder Chargesheet; SIT Finds Clues in Another Murder Bid

Bengaluru: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh filed its first charge sheet in the sensational case that rocked the state last year.

In a separate case, investigators sought the custody of four of the suspects arrested by Bengaluru Police for plotting to kill Mysore-based Professor Bhagwan in a similar fashion.

Also Read: Sri Ram Sene Activist Suspected to be Gauri Lankesh’s Shooter Arrested From Karnataka’s Sindagi

Two of them, including Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen who was named by KT Naveen, the key accused in the Lankesh case, hail from Karnataka. While Sujeet comes from Shimoga, Manohar Edave hails from Vijayapura in north Karnataka, the district that has been the hub of a lot of illegal weapons trade in recent times.

However, it is the other two persons that the SIT has laid its sights on regarding the Lankesh murder – Amit Degwekar, a Hindutva activist from Goa and Amol Kale, another Hindutva activist based in Pune.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder: Main shooter Parshuram Wagmare – a Sri Ram Sene member arrested by SIT

Amit has a direct link with Sanatan Sanstha as he has been living at the Sanstha’s ashram in Ponda, Goa, for nearly ten years.

He has been living at the ashram since the 2009 Madgaon blast where one of his former roommates lost his life while allegedly trying to plant a bomb. He was detained but no chargesheet was filed at the end.

Amol Kale, an activist of the Hindu Janajagruthi Samiti, is said to have been a key operative of the Sanstha and affiliated groups.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder: Knew of murder plot 15 days in advance, says first accused Naveen Kumar

The over 600 page charge sheet submitted by the SIT in a Bengaluru trial court implicates Naveen of having disappeared around the murder of Lankesh. It states that when his friends asked him about his whereabouts, he had even boasted about how he was busy with the Lankesh matter.

The chargesheet has the statements of 131 people who have either aided the police with some information or have been witnesses to certain acts like the reconnaissance measures by culprits in the Lankesh case.

The SIT observes that anyone involved in the plot to kill Prof Bhagwan could possibly have had a role in Lankesh’s murder as well.

Wednesday’s chargesheet directly charges Naveen with murder, criminal conspiracy, abetment and concealing the design or plot to commit the offence.

Also Read: Plot to kill Gauri Lankesh first took root at Ponda, Goa-based Hindu Extremist Outfit Sanathan Sanstha’s Hindu Conclave

It also talks of how attempts were made to change the number plates on the motorbike used by the biker who killed Lankesh.

Questions have also been raised about the legal team defending Naveen Kumar. The chargesheet states that lawyers who had earlier represented Sanathan Sanstha activists in Maharashtra had come to Bengaluru to represent Naveen at a few hearings.

Interestingly, though Naveen had initially agreed to undergo forensic tests such polygraph, brain-mapping and narco-analysis, he refused to give consent when he was taken to the Gujarat laboratory for the tests.

With his backing out, the SIT is now only relying on the leads that he gave during his interrogation in March. Naveen is currently in judicial custody and thus cannot be questioned. Investigators have informed the court several times that he refused to cooperate with them.

None of the arrested persons, however, seem to have any role other than that of organisation and logistics.

The two main culprits — the sharpshooter who pulled the trigger and the one who was driving the bike on September 5, 2017 to kill Lankesh — are still absconding. Police say, there could be other culprits too, which is why they are keen on questioning the four arrested in the Prof Bhagwan case.

Though the Lankesh SIT is not investigating the alleged plot to kill Prof Bhagwan, investigators believer similarities in the two cases are striking and there could be several links, including some about those involved in both the two plots.

Similarly, since the bullets that killed Lankesh matched with those that killed Prof Kalburgi in Dharwad three years back, they feel certain headway can be made by chasing the trail of the plot to murder Prof Bhagwan.

The SIT states in its charge sheet that the plot to kill Lankesh was hatched over at a period of at least seven to eight months.

Source: CNN News 18

Probe into Gauri Lankesh’s murder reveals links to extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha

A special investigation probe started in September 2017 has recently revealed links to the extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS).

A report by Indian Express articulated that Mohan Gowda, spokesperson to the HJS placed one of the accused, Naveen Kumar, in touch with the Sanathan Sanstha at the period of planning Gauri Lankesh’s murder.

Also Read: Plot to kill Gauri Lankesh first took root at Ponda, Goa-based Hindu Extremist Outfit Sanathan Sanstha’s Hindu Conclave

A senior investigative journalist, Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her residence in Bangalore last year. Naveen Kumar was arrested in connection with the case on March this year, while last week, four was his associates were placed into custody.

Alleged claims have surfaced that Gowda connected Naveen Kumar last year to Sujeet Kumar also referred to as Praveen, a 37-year-old Udupi resident, who was part of this unit and was arrested by the police on May 31.

Also Read: Sri Ram Sene Activist Suspected to be Gauri Lankesh’s Shooter Arrested From Karnataka’s Sindagi

The four accused arrested are Amol Kale alias Bhaisab (39) an activist of the HJS from Maharashtra, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep (39) a Sanatan Sanstha activist and resident of Goa and Manohar Edave (28) a resident of Vijayapura in Karnataka.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder: Knew of murder plot 15 days in advance, says first accused Naveen Kumar

Recently, a forensic report by the SIT has revealed similarities between the gun used to kill Gauri and MM Kalburgi, showcasing a linkage between the two murders and deepening the investigative process regarding the probe into her murder.

Source: Indian Express, The Wire

Plot to kill Gauri Lankesh first took root at Ponda Goa-based, Hindu Extremist Outfit Sanathan Sanstha’s Hindu Conclave in June 2017

New Delhi: The ongoing probe by the special investigation team (SIT) into the September 2017 murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh has revealed yet another link to the extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha based at Ponda in South Goa, and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS).

According to an Indian Express report, Mohan Gowda, Karnataka’s HJS spokesperson, put K.T. Naveen Kumar, the key accused in the case, in touch with the Sanatan Sanstha unit during the planning phase of the Lankesh murder.

Also Read: Sri Ram Sene Activist Suspected to be Gauri Lankesh’s Shooter Arrested From Karnataka’s Sindagi

It was in June 2017, when Naveen was invited to a workshop of Hindu organisations at an ashram Sanatan Sanstha in Goa’s Ponda, that Naveen first talked about how Hindus must ‘weaponise’ themselves to save the religion, the statement said, according to the NDTV report.

This was the same Hindu Conclave at Ponda where god woman Sadhvi Saraswati also made the controversial statements demanding that those who eat beef must be hanged. Several speakers told the audience that men should gift their sisters swords on Raksha Bandhan day.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder: Main shooter Parshuram Wagmare – a Sri Ram Sene member arrested by SIT

The SIT has taken into custody four more persons. A total of six persons are now arrested in the case. Among them are Sujith Kumar alias Praveen, who reportedly informed Naveen about the plot to kill Lankesh 15 days before the murder, as the person who ‘recruited’ people for the cause of Hindu dharma; Amol Kale, a Pune resident who is said to have been the main planner who “identified targets”; Amit Degvekar, a Hindutva activist who lived at the Sanatan Sanstha’s ashram in Ponda in Goa; and Manohar Edave, a resident of Vijayapura in north Karnataka.

Amit Degvekar has a direct link with Sanatan Sanstha as he has been living at the Sanstha’s ashram in Ponda, Goa, for nearly ten years and is very actively involved in all the activities of the Sanatan Sanstha to the extent he is a full-time worker or employee or permanent volunteer of the organisation, the charge sheet reveals.

Amit aka Pradeep has been living at the Sanatan Sanstha ashram in Ponda since the 2009 Madgaon blast where one of his former roommates lost his life while allegedly trying to plant a bomb. He was detained but no charge sheet was filed at the end in Madgaon blasts case.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder: Knew of murder plot 15 days in advance, says first accused Naveen Kumar

A college dropout, who was deeply interested in the task of spreading and safeguarding Hindu dharma, Naveen says he started ‘Hindu Yuva Sena’ in Mandya district. Other than running various programmes for the same agenda, Naveen also ran a few WhatsApp groups such as ‘Hindu Yuva Sena’, ‘Jago Hindu Maddur’, ‘Bajrang Maddur’, ‘Kaveri Boys’ for the greater cause of Hindu dharma.

Naveen Kumar, an activist of the Hindu Yuva Sena, was arrested in March 2018 and four of his associates taken into custody last week for the murder of Lankesh and plotting to kill Kannada writer K.S. Bhagwan.

Also Read: Main accused in Gauri Lankesh murder confesses to being indoctrinated at Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha

Gowda, according to the Indian Express, had knowledge about the existence of an “extremist unit” in the parent organisation. Based on a voluntary statement by Naveen Kumar, Gowda allegedly connected him last year to Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, a 37-year-old Udupi resident, who was among the four arrested on May 31.

The others arrested are Amol Kale alias Bhaisab (39) an activist of the HJS from Maharashtra, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep (39) a Sanatan Sanstha activist and resident of Goa and Manohar Edave (28) a resident of Vijayapura in Karnataka.

Gowda, however, told the daily: “It is a police conspiracy. We will hold a press conference soon on behalf of the HJS to speak on these issues.”

In his statement, Naveen Kumar made a reference to an annual convention of the Sanstha he attended in Goa’s Ponda in June 2017, where he spoke about the necessity of using weapons and arms for the protection of Hindu dharma.

“Impressed by my speech, many people congratulated me. Mohan Gowda praised me a lot. I told him I can procure guns and bullets. He told me there were many like-minded people and they would be contacting me in the coming days,” he claims.

The police chargesheet had earlier revealed the accused had killed Lankesh because they “were angry with her for speaking against Hindu dharma, Gods of Hindu dharma and insulting Hindu dharma.”

Following the convention, Naveen Kumar claims he was put in touch with one Praveen and asked to “carry on working” with him.

Praveen, as per the written statement, visited Naveen Kumar and and his wife soon after and collected some bullets that were in his possession to verify whether “they could be useful’’. Soon after, he told Naveen Kumar that he needed assistance to kill Lankesh.

“He told me Gauri Lankesh had been speaking in an insulting manner about Hindus and Hindu Gods, and that they had decided to kill her,’’ Kumar claims, adding that he then travelled to the Sanstha ashram in Mangalore on the invitation of a local HJS leader on September 5 last year and learnt the next day from reports that Lankesh had been killed.

The Wire had earlier reported how Gowda when questioned about the men’s links to the HJS, he had claimed that some of the men involved “may have attended HJS programmes”.

Source: The Wire & other reports (Ndtv & Indian Express)