The special investigation team probing the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh arrested one person in connection with the case on Thursday, PTI reported. Rushikesh Devdikar alias Murali, 44, will be produced before a judicial magistrate on Friday.
Devdikar had been absconding for months. He was arrested from his hideout at Katras in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand. He was part of the conspiracy to kill Lankesh, according to the probe team. “His house is being searched for clues,” the special investigation team said in a statement.
Lankesh, a journalist who was known for her strident views against Hindutva politics, was killed at her home in Bengaluru by gunmen on September 5, 2017. Her murder sparked protests around the country, and was seen by many as another in a spate of attacks that have targeted activists and writers critical of the right wing.
With this, 12 people have been arrested in the case. In July 2018, the special investigation team had made multiple arrests – including HL Suresh from Tumakuru, Rajesh Bangera from Kodagu, Mohan Nayak from Dakshina Kannada. Suresh is suspected to have provided shelter to the man who shot her dead, while Bangera had allegedly trained the killers in using guns. Bangera was also accused of supplying cartridges to members of a covert group linked to Hindutva outfit Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.
In June 2018, Parashuram Waghmare, 26, was taken into custody from Sindhagi in Vijaypura district of the state. Before Waghmare, the police had arrested five people in connection with the journalist’s murder – KT Naveen Kumar, Amol Kale, Manohar Edve, Sujeeth Kumar alias Praveen and Amit Degvekar.
The SIT had found that Lankesh was killed after a conspiracy by members of a right-wing group, which is also accused of killing Kannada writer MM Kalburgi.
In February 2019, the Supreme Court had noted that the murders of Kalburgi, Lankesh, Dabholkar and Pansare were part of a “very serious case”. In March, the Supreme Court had directed that the murder case of Kalburgi be transferred to the same special investigation team that is looking into Lankesh’s killing. However, Lankesh’s sister Kavitha Lankesh challenged the suggestion to club the investigations.