BENGALURU: The investigative officers looking into the murders of journalist Gauri Lankesh and rationalist M M Kalburgi are having a tough time extracting information from those arrested so far.
According to investigating officials, some of the accused had received meticulous training on how to handle interrogation and would even resort to chanting mantras or meditating to prevent themselves from divulging information.
On Saturday, the special court set up under the Control of Organised Crime Act, granted custody of accused Bharath Kunre for 10 days, but officers interrogating the accused are finding it difficult to break their ‘silence’. Though the ones arrested in Karnataka have divulged certain information, there are some links which have been difficult to establish.
An officer from Maharashtra ATS told The New Indian Express, “We observed that every time we asked a question, especially to the recently arrested right wingers, they would go silent and start meditating.”
The accused first complain of ‘harassment’ from the police to threaten the investigating officers but when this does not work, they adapt to the meditation technique, which is supposedly part of their training to keep the alleged Hindu extremist group intact, another officer explained.
This practise was confirmed when the Bengaluru team told the Maharashtra ATS that T Naveen Kumar, the first person to be arrested in Gauri’s murder, had accused the Bengaluru police team of harassment and had also refused to take the lie detector test.
He had even threatened to commit suicide. Similarly, in the Nalsopara arms haul case, the accused Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalskar and Sudhanva Gondhalekar also complained of harassment.
But when no heed was paid to their complaints, they allegedly resorted to the ‘silent treatment’ technique.
“We came across the same strategy when we went to Satara Prison to question Sameer Gaikwad, the prime accused in Govind Pansare’s murder. When we asked him questions about the murder of Kalburgi, he would start chanting mantras and also meditate,” the source said.
Several code words mentioned in the diary recovered from Amol Kale are being decoded by the joint team.
“These men had codes for everything, starting from the location of practice to meeting dates. We found multiple phone numbers and names of other pro-Hindutva activists, whom he had allegedly recruited to kill other rationalists and progressive thinkers. These phone numbers and SIM cards led to the arrest of Vaibhav Raut and two others,” sources said.
“It remains to be seen whether any of the guns seized from Raut’s possession match the bullet casings found near Gauri Lankesh’s home,” sources said.
The team from Karnataka is also trying to find if there are any others who are linked with right wing group Sanatan Sanstha and linked with murders of Kalburgi or Gauri Lankesh. “we are watching Sanatan Sanstha in Goa very closely.” an officer confirmed.
Interestingly, the controversial right-wing group, Sanatan Sanstha, also issued an advisory on its website on August 20, asking followers to pray and chant Lord Krishna’s name to evade arrest.
Another arrest likely soon
One more person is likely to be arrested from the state in connection with the murders of Gauri and Kalburgi, sources from Criminal Investigation Department team in Pune confirmed. The ATS along with CID Karnataka and officers from Pune held a joint meeting in Pune on Friday to discuss the next course of action. The accused has been changing his location frequently and the police suspect that he must have been tipped off.