Gauri Lankesh murder: Multiple teams fan out for ‘brains’ behind conspiracy

Meanwhile, another training session with air guns was conducted at Belagavi following which they also had a session on making Molotov cocktails.
Late senior journalist Gauri Lankesh (File | PTI)
Late senior journalist Gauri Lankesh (File | PTI)

BENGALURU: The special investigation team (SIT) probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case is now on the lookout for two people -- Nihal alias Dada and Murali alias Shiva -- who are said to be the brains behind the killings of four rationalists and several bomb blasts. 

Meanwhile, following a tip by SIT from Amol Kale’s diary which mentioned a ‘mechanic’, the Maharashtra police have arrested another accused Vasudeo Suryavanshi alias ‘Mechanic’. The arrest of these two men is expected to be the main part of the investigation which will help the police not only go into the heart of the conspiracy, but also find out the names of the organisations suspected to be behind the murders.

While it is yet to be revealed if Nihal is the Dada whom the investigating teams are looking for, the fact that Murali is the man behind all the killings and blasts have been revealed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) officers in their investigation report (IR).  

Excerpts of this report has been revealed by an investigating officer to Express. In arms cases involving Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanva Gondhalekar, Shrikant Pangarkar and Avinash Pawar, it mentions Murali as an “elusive figure” and calls him the brain behind several bomb blasts and the murders of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar in Pune, M M Kalburgi in Dharwad, Govind Pansare in Kolhapur and Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru. 

“He is also the chief recruiter for a shadowy organisation spanning Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa that spread terror. Murali headed the unit responsible for the blasts and the killings. Amol Kale, a 37-year-old engineer from Pune who was arrested for murdering Lankesh, was his deputy. Virendrasinh Tawde, accused of murdering of Dr Dabholkar, reported to Kale,” the report says.

Meanwhile, as Express had reported earlier, the report mentions that it was in 2014 that some of these people from several right wing organisations, named in Kale’s diary, met at a conference organised by Sanatan Sanstha in Goa. “This is one of the important milestones in the terror organisation built by Murali. He met Raut and eight others, some of whom have been arrested for their alleged involvement in Gauri murder,” report states.

‘Inspirational’ figure
During interrogation, Raut allegedly told the investigators, “We all looked at Murali as an inspirational figure and he is the one who incited many of his recruits by highlighting alleged atrocities perpetrated by Muslims on Hindus.” The report describes in detail how the training sessions were conducted with air guns and indoctrination meetings that happened at Belagavi, Aurangabad, Mumbai and Jalna. It was there that the recruits were shown inflammatory videos.

Meanwhile, another training session with air guns was conducted at Belagavi following which they also had a session on making Molotov cocktails. The final training sessions for the shooters were given with pistols at a farm near Ahmedabad.

All teams behind Murali and Nihal
Multiple agencies, including SIT in Karnataka, ATS in Mumbai and the CBI, are looking for Murali and Nihal. There were many more in the “hit list” prepared by this unnamed organisation, but before Raut and Pawar could execute the hits in Mumbai, the SIT probing Gauri’s murder arrested Kale. After Kale’s arrest, all of Murali’s recruits went into hiding.  

“We have to nab him as it is extremely important. He might even have prepared another team to execute more killings. They are all fanatics and we can’t say that they will stop their subversive activities,” said an SIT officer. It is becoming difficult to trace them as the recruits were given pseudonyms and were expected to address each other by those names only at all times, including phone conversations, explained an officer. While the main ones — Sharad Kalaslar was Sarwan or Vishnu or Dada, Vaibhav Raut was Vaman, Sudhanva Gondhalkar was Pandeji, Avinash Pawar was Ajit Dada and Vasudeo Suryavanshi was Mechanic.

Who is Vasudeo alias Suryavanshi
The 29-year-old is a skilled two-wheeler lifter and is suspected to have provided stolen bikes to be used for the murder of Gauri. Recently, Maharashtra ATS had recovered a Bajaj Pulsar bike from a friend of Sharad Kalaskar, the key accused in the Dhabolkar case. During investigations, he had reportedly claimed that the bike was used by Ganesh Miskin and Parashuram Waghmore during the murder of Gauri.  The ATS officials, who are still on the lookout for the owner of the bike, suspect that Vasudev could be the one who stole the vehicle and gave it to Sharad Kalaskar.

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The New Indian Express