BENGALURU: Maintaining secrecy, not revealing their real identities and not asking questions were the unwritten rules for the team set up by a right-wing organisation to carry out covert operations, which executed the murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh and had more than 34 names of writers and progressive thinkers on their hitlist.
The voluntary statements made by most of the accused persons, arrested in connection with the murder of Gauri Lankesh and the alleged plot to assassinate rationalist Prof KS Bhagwan, reveal that the heads of the team had taken utmost care to ensure that even if one of the gang is caught, he would not be able to give leads to police about other members.
Accused Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, in his voluntary statement, has said, “I was tasked to identify people who can do anything for the sake of Hindu religion and introduce them to Nihal alias Dada (still absconding) and Amol Kale alias Bhaisaab. Once they were introduced to them, I was not supposed to ask Dada or Bhaisaab about them nor to meet them. Whenever we met a new member, we did not tell them our real identities and introduced ourselves with other names. Similarly, even they did not reveal their original identities. We were not supposed to ask them about their residential addresses and what they did for livelihood. This was a rule in our organisation”.
Further, the gang members were cautious about exchanging their phone numbers until a new member gained their trust. They also used multiple mobile phone numbers to contact each member.
“The leaders of the gang had asked me not to speak to other members over phone and not to give my mobile phone number to them. I had multiple SIM cards to talk to each of the members and that number was never used to call two different members. Maintaining secrecy was an important aspect in our organisation. Whenever we identified a new member, we contacted them through public telephones only and we didn’t give them our phone number. Only after we were convinced he can be a member of our team, we used to give him a phone and were in one-to-one contact with him. We used converse using codenames,” Sujeet Kumar’s statement read.
The gang members met only at bus stands, temples and secret locations at different places, whenever there was a need to conduct a meeting, Sujeet has revealed in his statement.