BENGALURU: Unearthing the mystery behind the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) has found that Amol Kale, the 37-year-old engineer from Pune who was earlier arrested in connection with the case, allegedly masterminded the killing, recruiting like-minded people for the job and meticulously executing the plan.
Kale was arrested by the SIT from Davanagere on May 21 on the suspicion of conspiring to kill Mysuru-based rationalist Prof K S Bhagawan.It is also said Kale allegedly trained Parashuram Waghmare in shooting, and the latter has reportedly confessed before the SIT officials that he was the one who shot Gauri Lankesh dead on the evening of September 5, 2017 in front of her house in Rajarajeshwarinagar.
Sources in the SIT told Express that the case was cracked after an arduous investigation and interrogation of the six accused persons — K T Naveen Kumar, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen, Amol Kale alias Bhaisaab, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep Mahajan, Manohar Dundappa Edave alias Manoj, and Parashuram Waghmare — arrested in the case.
“Investigations have established that Kale identified the other accused persons — excluding Amit, whom he knew before — at religious meetings, spoke to them individually and hand-picked them after convincing them that he needed their help to save Hindu religion. Accordingly, they all joined hands to assassinate Gauri, who, according to them, disrespected and insulted Hindu religion,” an SIT officer said.
“Kale and Amit had trained Parashuram at various places including Satara and Belagavi. Kale stayed in a house at Nayandahalli in Bengaluru just for a week to execute the plan. As per the instruction, Parashuram arrived in Bengaluru on September 3 and Naveen picked him up and took him to where Kale was staying, where there was another man, identified as ‘Anna’,” the officer said.
First attempt to kill Gauri made on September 4
An SIT officer said, “Kale discussed the plan to kill Gauri and clearly instructed Parashuram that the bullet should hit the target’s head.“The first attempt was made on September 4 evening. Anna rode the bike while Parashuram rode pillion. But they could not accomplish the job as Gauri reached home very late. On September 5, the duo waited near her house from 6pm and Gauri reached home at 8 pm. They followed her and Parashuram opened fire at her. His attempt to shoot her in the head failed and the first bullet hit the wall of her house. In a hurry to kill her and leave, he shot another 3-4 rounds at her and escaped with Anna,” officer said.
“After the murder, both reached Kale’s house and Parashuram took a train to Sindhagi the next morning. Others also left the city within 1-2 days. But among those directly involved in the murder, Anna is still absconding,” the officer said, confirming that Parashuram had confessed that he was the shooter.
The SIT believes that the instruction to kill Gauri came from a right-wing group, but is not sure of the identity and whereabouts of those behind the killing.
Who are the six accused?
KT Naveen Kumar (37) arrested by CCB from Majestic. Accused of conducting recce at Gauri’s house
Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, who allegedly provided logistics, arrested in Shivamogga
Manohar Edave (29) from Vijayapura arrested from Davanagere. SIT found a diary at his house indicating location of Gauri’s house in RR Nagar
Amol Kale (37) from Pune, alleged mastermind; arrested from Davanagere
Amith Degwekar alias Pradeep Mahajan (38) arrested from Davanagere. Trained Parashuram in shooting
Parashuram Waghmare (26) held. Police suspect him to be the shooter