BENGALURU: The suspected killers of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who had also allegedly hatched a plot to eliminate rationalist Prof K S Bhagwan, were on the hunt for like-minded persons to take the mission forward, after coming to know about the arrest of K T Naveen Kumar, who was initially assigned the task.
Sources in the special investigation team (SIT) probing the Gauri murder case said Amol Kale alias Bhaisaab, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep Mahajan and Manohar Edave alias Manoj, who were arrested in Davangare on May 21, had gone there to meet Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, who had told Kale that he will bring some men with him to aid them in their covert operations.
“The trio had gone there with the purpose of discussing further plans to kill Bhagwan, as their henchman Naveen Kumar, who was tasked with the job, was arrested in February,” a senior police officer said.
Substantiating this, the voluntary statement of confession given by Amit Degwekar in connection with the case registered by Upparpet police for hatching a plot to murder Bhagwan reveals that he had gone with Bhaisaab (Kale) to meet some “boys” in Davangere.
Degwekar, who has admitted that he had gone along with Kale, Nihal alias Dada, Praveen and Manoj to meet Naveen Kumar in Maddur to get gun and bullets from him, has said in the statement, “In February, Dada informed me about the arrest of Naveen Kumar by Bengaluru police in some case and asked me to go underground for some days. Fearing arrest, I went into hiding. After several days, Bhaisaab contacted me and said we have to go to Davangere where Praveen will introduce his boys to us. When I went there with Bhaisaab and Manoj in Bhaisaab’s car and was waiting for Praveen, policemen in plainclothes arrested us”.
The trio was arrested on May 21 morning. Praveen, who was supposed to introduce new members to Kale, the leader of the right-wing extremist team that carry out covert operations, and others, was caught by the police the previous day.
“Naveen had asked his friend Anil Kumar to practise firing to kill Bhagwan. After his arrest in February, the members of the covert operations team had gone absconding. They surfaced three months later. As Naveen, who was fully aware of the plot to assassinate Bhagwan, was arrested, Kale and other core members of the team were looking for other like-minded men to carry their plan forward. The purpose of their visit to Davangere was to discuss the same,” an official added.