BENGALURU: A few hours after the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, protests erupted outside her residence in Rajarajeshwari Nagar late on Tuesday night. Several activists whom she worked closely with had gathered. They feared that there was a link between her death and rationalist M M Kalaburgi’s.
C Dwarkanath, former chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes, said, “This is a threat to all writers who question the system. Today it is Gauri, tomorrow it could be me.” K S Vimala of Janawadi Mahila Sanghatane said, “People are putting up hate posts on social media and are celebrating her death.”Congress leader V S Ugrappa said that he had met Gauri only last week to discuss about the atrocities on women and children. “But never did she mention about any threat,” he said.
She had just reached home
According to her colleagues, Gauri left office at 7.30pm. It was around 8pm when she reached home. She got down from her car and was opening the gate when bike-borne men shot at her four times, killing her on the spot, police said. A security guard from the opposite apartment saw her lying on the ground and thought she was unconsious. He went to get water and informed other residents. This is when the residents saw the bullet wounds. A neighbour said, “We got to know that she was shot at 8.10pm and we called an ambulance and the police. We thought it was the sound of crackers at a Ganesha procession.” Gauri’s brother Indrajit said that despite repeated requests from her family members, she continued to live alone. Her sister Kavita Lankesh stays in the same locality.
Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar said there were four empty cartridges found at the spot. It is suspected that three bullets are lodged in her body and the assailants used a country-made pistol. But investigating officials did not confirm this. At 12.45 am, police and forensic experts broke open the door of Gauri’s house in the presence of her brother Indrajit. The two CCTV cameras placed outside her house are expected to help with the probe. Preliminary probe revealed that though Gauri was receiving threat calls for the past few days, she did not pay much heed to it. Her call records are now being examined.
A senior police officer said, “The assailants had been tracking her movement for days. We are not ruling out the involvement of professional killers. We are gathering information about the court cases she was involved in,” the officer added. The body has been shifted to Victoria Hospital and the post mortem will be conducted on Wednesday.
Security beefed up
An hour after the murder, police personnel set up nakabandis across the city looking for the suspects. All vehicles were checked in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and nearby areas. Security was beefed up, especially on Mysuru Road, Ramanagara Road, NICE Road and Hosur Road. Sources in the police department said that since policemen in the city were focussed on the BJP rally since morning, the assailants took advantage of the situation to target Gauri.
Police said that so far they have quizzed five neighbours. However, many residents in the area did not want to get involved in the investigation and therefore they locked their houses and left Rajarajeshwari Nagar late on Tuesday night, a resident said.