BENGALURU: Over 50 would-be assassins, trained to handle guns and petrol bombs, have been dispatched to different parts of the country, and are waiting for instructions from their handlers to eliminate anti-Hindutva writers, thinkers and activists, a police source told Deccan Chronicle.
The Karnataka police and their counterparts from other states have intensified the search for these men, who were recruited by one of the accused in the journalist Gauri Lankesh murder case.
Teams have been formed to avert Gauri-like assassinations, after it emerged during the investigation that the accused, Sujeeth Kumar alias Praveen (37), arrested in May for his alleged role in Gauri's murder, has recruited over 50 people to carry out assassinations of over 20 rationalists, ‘anti-Hindu’ writers and speakers in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The police are trying to trace these ‘sleeper cells’ who have been trained in handling guns, pistols, air guns and petrol bombs.
It is learnt that these men have been sent to different cities in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra after their training in parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa. These men are now waiting for instructions from their handlers, police sources told this newspaper.
It is suspected that Amol Kale alias Bhaisab from Maharashtra, Amit Devgekar alias Pradeep from Goa and Manohar Yavade from Vijayapura, who were arrested on May 21, 2018 for conspiring to kill Mysuru-based Kannada writer and rationalist Prof K.S. Bhagwan, are part of this trained assassin group.
A police source said that both the trained men and fresh recruits do not know what to do, but are waiting for instructions from their handlers. Besides Sujeeth, two or three more people suspected to have recruited the men.
The sources said that the recruitments began around 2014-2015 and picked up pace till the assassination of Gauri on September 5, 2015. It later slowed down as the SIT was hot on pursuit of Gauri killers, and completely stopped with the arrest of Naveen and his close aide Sujeeth.
Recruits extreme fundamentalists
Sujeeth Kumar allegedly had one agenda, to silence the voices that speak ill of Hindutva. To do that, he wanted a reliable and like-minded army of people. He soon started recruiting and training his men. He would send them to different parts of the country and tell them for instructions.
The recruits were picked at events organised by Hindutva groups and based on their involvement in past activities, like inciting communal tensions.
Shooter recruited by Sujeeth?
A source said that Parmshuram Waghmore, the suspected shooter who pulled the trigger on Gauri, was recruited by Sujeeth a few years ago based on his role in triggering communal tension in Sindagi in Vijayapura district by hoisting a Pakistani national flag in front of tahsildar's office in 2012.
Kale’s diary: 36 targets, 50 shooters
Chilling details of 36 potential targets of a Hindutva fringe group has emerged with the decoding of Amol Kale's diary, which also contains information on identifying 50 potential shooters. A suspect in the Gauri murder case, Amol Kale was in fact arrested for conspiring to kill Kannada writer and rationalist Prof. K S Bhagwan. His diary is in a coded language and has details of potential targets, including Gauri Lankesh’s.
After decoding, investigators have got details of potential shooters recruited to carry out the jobs and have traced the 'shooters' spread across Karnataka. An SIT source said that most of the targets were from Maharashtra and a few from Karnataka. All that the potential targets have in common is their strong views against Hindutva.
Sources said that the diary further revealed that Kale approached shooters during programmes organised by right-wing outfits in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa....