The Hindutva outfit which is accused of murdering journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017 also watched the activities of rationalist Narendra Nayak in Mangaluru in 2016, and identified him as a target, the Karnataka Police have told the court, The Indian Express reported.

Rajesh Bangera, one of the accused and an alleged member of Sanatan Sanstha, said he watched the movements of Nayak, the president of Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, for two days, police said. The group allegedly recruited and trained a youth from Mangaluru for an attack, and the duo conducted surveillance on Nayak, the Special Investigation Team said.

Bangera trained four youths identified as Mohan, Yathin, Yathish and Kumud to use guns before the surveillance began, the police alleged. As many as 16 copies of Sanatan Prabhat, the magazine published by Sanatan Sanstha, were found at his home, they added.

The SIT also found a diary belonging to the main accused in the Lankesh case, Amol Kale, which contains the entry “KA new practice and deployment”. It lists Bhagwan, NN, Nijuguanand and Kaka as “targets”. The police contend that these refer to rationalists KS Bhagwan, Narendra Nayak, Swami Nijuguanand and playwright Girish Karnad. The diary also lists the names of those who would carry out the murders.

“The members of this organization targeted persons who they identified to be inimical to their belief and ideology,” the SIT said. “The members strictly followed the guidelines and principles mentioned in ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’, a book published by Sanatan Sanstha.”

Gauri Lankesh was murdered outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017. Last month, the Sanatan Sanstha had accused the Karnataka Police of framing it in the Lankesh murder case. “We never believed in violence, as our primary objective is sadhana [spiritual practice] on the lines of the Sanstha’s philosophy,” spokesperson Chetan Rajhans claimed.

The SIT has filed a 9,235-page chargesheet against 18 people so far, 16 of whom have been arrested.