SIT files additional charge sheet in Gauri murder case

Bengaluru, Nov 23 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 11/23/2018 11:49:51 AM IST

The special investigation team (SIT) probing the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was gunned down outside her Bengaluru house in September 2017, today filed an additional charge sheet against 18 accused.

The SIT had invoked the Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA) in the case in August, claiming that an unnamed organisation had carried out the murder, angered over Lankesh’s rationalist ideals.

In a statement issued after filing the charge sheet in the special KCOCA court, the SIT said it submitted a 9,235 page long additional charge sheet against 18 accused persons and sought the court’s permission to investigate further. The deadline for filing the charge sheet was November 27.

Lankesh was gunned down at her house on September 5, 2017, as she was returning home from her office. The incident had been captured on a CCTV camera placed at her door. However, as the shooter had worn a helmet, the police could not identify him.

It was only in February that the police made the first arrest in the case after it nabbed KT Naveen Kumar, who was allegedly given the task of procuring a gun and bullets for the crime. He was held, the police said, just as the group was allegedly plotting the murder of rationalist KS Bhagwan.

Subsequently, the SIT hit upon the plot and with this breakthrough, was able to arrest Sujith Kumar alias Praveen, who then led it to the alleged masterminds Amol Kale and Amit Degwekar, both from Maharashtra, a police officer said. Also apprehended was Manohar Edave, a resident of Vijayapura, who allegedly played a key role in recruiting the killers.

In June, the SIT arrested Parashuram Waghmare, who it believes, shot Lankesh. The others key accused arrested are Amit Baddi and Ganesh Miskin, who are suspected to have ferried Waghmare to her home on a two-wheeler, and Rakesh Bangera, who allegedly trained the shooter.

While the police matched the bullets recovered from the crime scene with those recovered from the house of rationalist MM Kalburgi, who was also shot dead at his home in Karnataka’s Dharwad in August 2015, it is still not in possession of the gun used to commit the crimes, according to a senior official of the SIT, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“However, we are now in possession of the two-wheeler used in the commission of the crime,” the officer said. “Around 80% of the investigation is complete at this stage.”

Lawyers for the accused said they had only just heard that the charge sheet had been filed and were not in possession of the document. A Vedamurthy, advocate for Naveen Kumar, said he would have to go through the document before he could comment on the matter.

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