BENGALURU: The Special Investigation Team (SIT)'s probe into the sensational Gauri Lankesh murder case, has been bolstered recently, with forensic evidence showing that Parshuram Waghmore is the shooter.
The deduction is based on forensic evidence from a Gait Analysis report by the Directorate of Forensic Science, Gujarat. The report compares CCTV clips of the assassination—which shows the shooter in the frame of six seconds—with footage of the SIT’s reconstruction of the crime.
B K Singh, leading the SIT team, had expressed his concern, way back after Parashuram — a Sri Ram Sene activist from the Karnataka Maharashtra border had allegedly confessed to being the one who shot Gauri on September 5, 2017. After reconstructing the scene, the same video clip was sent to the Forensic Lab. The report has now concluded that 'the persons in the two videos are one and the same with probably identity.'
Sources in SIT explained, “We knew such a confession by Waghmore will not hold up in court. We were aware of what was at stake,” The team has also acquired collaborative material evidence despite the accused not using mobile phones as a safeguard against leaving a digital trail.
“CCTV footage near Gauri’s house showed three construction workers and a journalism student, all hailing from Raichur, walking on the road, as the gunman and the motorcycle rider sped past them after the murder. The killers were seen turning back and looking at the four witnesses. The witnesses had seen Waghmore, without a helmet while they were waiting for Gauri to come,”
Their statements, along with another shopkeeper who saw the men in the neighbourhood during a recce of the house is also available with the SIT. While the initial sketches matched, what also strengthened the case according to the officer is that the student and the shopkeeper have picked him out of an identification parade organised by the SIT.
The SIT also has circumstantial evidence which shows that Waghmore and another prime accused Sujith Kumar alias Praveen had vacated a rented house they were staying in — at Seegehalli, West Bengaluru — just an hour after Gauri Lankesh was murdered. The landlord of the house Suresh has identified Waghmore and Praveen.
Meanwhile, initial forensic analysis of CCTV footage from Gauri’s house put the height of the shooter at about 5 feet 2 inches which matches Waghmore’s physique. The SIT is now waiting for the ballistic report of the 17 country-made pistols and also the one black pistol found from the Nalasopara arrests of right-wing activists and Sachin Andure’s arrest.
How does Forensic Gait Analysis help nab criminals?
Forensic podiatrists with gait analysis, which was first used in the UK about 18 years ago is now providing assistance with hundreds of criminal cases involving video footage of criminals, footprints, and footwear across the world.
The increasing use of video surveillance or closed circuit television (CCTV) suggests a greater likelihood that criminals will be recorded committing crimes or while they are departing or arriving from the scene of the crime. However, investigators who observe a criminal walking or running on video may not be able to make an identification by facial features, which may be obscured by poor lighting, inadequate camera angles, the use of a mask, and other factors. In these circumstances, a forensic podiatrist may be able to link a suspect to the criminal act by analysis and comparison of his or her gait.
Gait is said to refer to the “manner or style of walking.” More specifically, gait is the way humans (and certain animals, such as horses) move, an essential component of which is the repetitive nature of the movement. While walking refers to one specific manner of locomotion, gait refers to both walking and running.
To utilize forensic gait analysis for a case, investigators must have identified a suspect and, prior to making an arrest, surveillance video of the suspect should be obtained. Investigators should consider discussing the case with a forensic podiatrist who has expertise in forensic gait analysis to help determine the best way to videotape the suspect. In general, surveillance video of a suspect should be shot at various angles, taking care to include the angle that most closely approximates the camera angle of the surveillance video that recorded the offender. If possible, the suspect should also be moving at a similar speed as the offender was in the recording.
Once investigators have shot surveillance video of the suspect, the forensic podiatrist can then analyze it and compare it with video of the criminal. The specific features and characteristics of the gait of the suspect and the individual in the surveillance video are compared for similarities and differences with regard to motions, positions, and structure.