Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said a Special Investigation Team had been set up to look into senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh’s murder. The team will be headed by an officer at the inspector general’s level.
“I have instructed the police that activists propagating progressive thoughts should be given police protection,” he said. “It was, indeed, a case of organised crime, but I cannot say yet whether it was a part of a conspiracy.”
Lankesh, a known critic of Hindutva groups, was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwari Nagar on Tuesday evening. Her last rites will take place at the Chamrajpet crematorium later on Wednesday.
“I have personally examined the CCTV footage,” he said. “There were four CCTV cameras, and in one of them, it is clearly seen that there was a man with a jacket and a helmet shooting at her as she enters the compound of her house after parking the car. Due to the impact of the shots, she is thrown off and falls.”
Siddaramaiah had called for an emergency meeting with top police officials in connection with the ongoing investigation, News18 reported. “She met me recently but never spoke about any threats,” he said. “Two people who posted something on Facebook [against Gauri Lankesh] are being questioned.”
The chief minister said the police had been asked to check whether there were any links between her murder and that of scholar MM Kalburgi two years ago. No solid link has been found so far,” he said. “If there is any link, we will hand over the Kalburgi case also to the SIT.”
Lankesh was shot three times
Her brother Indrajit Lankesh said that the autopsy found three bullets in her body. The body will be moved from Victoria Hospital to cultural centre Ravindra Kalakshetra.
“The only thing that gives us solace is that she didn’t suffer,” he said. “One of the bullets punctured her heart and she died immediately.”
The assailants escaped on a motorcycle after shooting her dead.
Union minister demands CBI inquiry
Earlier in the day, Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation and former Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said the Central Bureau of Investigation must be handed the inquiry into Lankesh’s murder, reported ANI.
The journalist’s brother Indrajit Lankesh had also requested a CBI inquiry. “We’ve seen the state’s investigation of scholar MM Kalburgi’s murder two years ago, and with sadness I say they have not done anything,” he said. “The CCTV camera [in the premises of her house] captured the whole incident. I am confident the culprits will be caught soon. Her mobile phone also contains a lot of evidence.”
Meanwhile, Karnataka Law Minister TB Jayachandra said there were similarities between the murders of Gauri and Kalburgi. “There must be some conspiracy behind this,” he said. “We cannot rule out [any similarities].”
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the Congress government in the state was a failure, demanding a strong investigation into the case.
Many politicians and other prominent personalities expressed their anger over the murder. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi expressed his condolences to her family and demanded that the culprits be punished quickly.
“The truth will never be silenced. Gauri Lankesh lives on in our hearts,” he said. “Anybody who speaks against ideology of the BJP and the RSS is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed.