BENGALURU: The special investigation team (SIT) probing the journalist Gauri Lankesh murder case had no inkling about the ‘supari’ case involving another senior journalist when they picked up a sharpshooter for interrogation.
Shashidhar Mundewadi was one of the many sharpshooters and gun dealers that the SIT had questioned over last three months looking for leads in Gauri's case. During questioning, Mundewadi spilled the beans and revealed that the weapon which the police had seized from him belonged to journalist Ravi Belagere.
The plot became clearer after police got more details about his links with Belagere. A police officer said that CCB police had arrested one Tahir Hussain alias Anup Gowda on December 3 when he tried to sell a weapon in Parappana Agrahara police station limits.
He was taken into custody and he revealed the name of Shashidhar Ramachandrappa Mundewadi who had collected a country-made pistol and two bullets. A special team nabbed Mundewadi on December 7.
Mundewadi was thoroughly grilled and police were shocked when they learnt that Ravi Belagere had called him and his associate Viju Badigera to his office chamber on August 28. After discussion, Belagere had given a gun along with four live bullets and a knife to kill Suneel Heggaravalli. Belagere told Mundewadi that Heggaravalli had betrayed him over a personal dispute and promised a lump sum once he finished the job.
He paid Rs15,000 as advance for the hit job. Later, an office boy from Hai Bengaluru took Mundewadi and Viju to Uttarahalli to show them the residence of Heggaravalli and shared all his details. “The next day, Mundewadi went near Heggaravalli’s house to open the fire at him. He waited for a while but as Heggaravalli did not venture outside the house, he could not carry out the hit.
"Soon after gathering information from Mundewadi, police conducted searches at Belagere’s residence and office and seized two weapons along with live cartridges,” a senior police officer said. Some more arrests are likely, the officer added.
Though the SIT has not made any headway in Gauri’s case, those picked up by the team for questioning were found to have been involved in other cases. Some gun dealers whom the SIT questioned were booked by city police during investigation. The officer said the SIT had questioned several people, including some journalists who were in contact with Gauri.The SIT later ruled out professional rivalry.