The Special Investigation Team inquiring into the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh said on Friday that Parashuram Waghmare, a suspect who was arrested this week from Sindhagi in Vijaypura district of Karnataka, shot her with a country-made pistol. Lankesh was killed outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5.
Waghmare has told the Karnataka Police that he was handed the pistol just a day before the murder, and that a plan to murder Lankesh the previous day was aborted because the journalist returned home earlier than expected, The Indian Express reported. After the killing, the pistol and remaining bullets were returned to the conspirators.
The man who handed Waghmare the gun is suspected to be Amol Kale, 37, a former convenor of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, a Hindutva group. Waghmare himself has been linked to the Sri Rama Sene. However, the weapon he used is yet to be traced, PTI reported. The police had earlier claimed that the same pistol was used to Kannada writer MM Kalburgi.
“We discovered that this gang [the conspirators] of at least 60 people has networks in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka,” an unidentified officer told PTI. “We did not find their Uttar Pradesh connection so far.”
The officer said that the gang planned its operations meticulously, for as long as six months to a year, before executing them. “The gang had almost reached the last phase, of killing [Kannada writer] KS Bhagwan, when we nabbed them.”
Meanwhile, Sri Rama Sene denied any links with Waghmare. “I don’t know what he [Waghmare] has said before SIT,” the outfit’s chief Pramod Muthalik told ANI. “There are so many people who click photos with me, just by clicking photos someone won’t become our worker.”
Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru’s RR Nagar locality on September 5. Reports said the investigation team had earlier stated that Lankesh was killed for her “anti-Hindu” views. They also said there are links between her murder and those of Kannada writer MM Kalburgi, and rationalists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.