Bengaluru: In what could be a breakthrough in the assassination of the activist and journalist Gauri Lankesh on Sept. 5, 2017, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder case have taken into custody a member of a radical Hindutva group on strong suspicion of his involvement in the murder.
The suspect, identified as K.T. Naveen Kumar (37), a native of Maddur, is a founder of right-wing radical outfit Hindu Yuva Sena and has alleged links with Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. Naveen was arrested by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths on February 18 from Kempegowda Bus station and found with over 15 rounds of cartridges of .32 calibre in his possession which he was allegedly selling to a customer.
During the interrogation, the police traced Naveen's links with radical Hindutva outfits as the accused revealed his previous deals of arms and ammunition.
Based on strong suspicion of his involvement in the brutal killing, the SIT has taken custody of Naveen for eight days and is interrogating him to ascertain his role in Gauri's murder.
A source in the SIT said that Naveen is a strong suspect in the 55 year old activist's murder and the SIT sought his custody as he is being treated as the murder accused. “We suspect that the bike-borne man who did the recce of the area on the day Gauri was assassinated is Naveen, considering the appearance of the man. However, it still needs to be verified."
According to police, Naveen is a part of an organised gang which supplies arms and ammunition to right-wing groups. The SIT officials are trying to track the source of arms procurements and clients.
Gauri Lankesh, a hardcore critic of Hindutva ideology and advocate of secularism was shot dead by two men at point-blank range outside her residence. A SIT was formed by the Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy the next day to probe the murder but the team did not make any breakthrough despite questioning over 200 suspects and examining hundreds of GBs of footages of the CCTV cameras. The team had also released three sketches of two suspects but in vain.
A reward of Rs 10 lakh was also announced for leads that may help the investigating team to catch the culprits....