Investigators have found a digital trail that indicates that the suspect in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh attended at least five meetings conducted by the Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. The Karnataka Police had arrested the 37-year-old suspect, Naveen Kumar, on February 18 for illegal possession of bullets.
The Special Investigation Team took him into custody on March 3.
Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru’s RR Nagar locality on September 5. The police suspect that Kumar may have taken the unidentified gunmen to Lankesh’s home. Kumar, purportedly a member of the Hindu Yuva Sena, is believed to have talked to his friends about his connection with Lankesh’s murder.
The digital trail on social media and the internet reportedly showed that Kumar had attended meetings conducted by the Hindu extremist group and its affiliate in Bengaluru and Maddur in Karnataka, and Ponda in Goa. The Special Investigation Team, that is probing the larger conspiracy, is trying to ascertain if Kumar was roped into the controversy at any of these meetings, the report said. The establishment of a Hindu nation was one of the topics on the agenda at these meetings.
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti spokesperson Mohan Gawda said the organisation knows Kumar. “Kumar attended our adhiveshan in Goa last year on our invitation,” Gowda told the English newspaper. “He has attended dharma sabhas in Bengaluru and a programme on Bhagat Singh. He was also part of a programme held in his home town Maddur.”
Kumar has purportedly claimed that he was unaware of the plotters’ identities and he described them as outsiders.
The Special Investigation Team probing the murder case had submitted a voluntary statement from Kumar to the court. On March 13, a court had granted the SIT permission to conduct a narco-analysis test on Kumar, who agreed to undergo the test.