Bengaluru: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Friday arrested K.T. Naveen Kumar alias Hotte Manja - member of Hindu Yuva Sena (HYS), Maddur in the Gauri Lankesh murder case. Kumar was reportedly arrested on February 18 in the Arms Act case by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) in the Upparpet police station limits, when he was allegedly found selling contraband live cartridges at the KSRTC bus stand, Majestic. The SIT had taken him into police custody on March 2.
Confirming his arrest in Gauri murder case, DCP, West, M.N Anuchet said that the "evidences collected so far confirm Kumar as an accused in the (Gauri) case but in the interest of protecting the witnesses and investigation we cannot at this point reveal his role. He has been arrested under Sections 302 (murder) and 120b (criminal conspiracy), 118 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with death or life imprisonment) and 35 (act done with the criminal intent and knowledge) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 25 of the Arms Act. The SIT has taken him into custody for five days," said the DCP.
According to sources, Kumar in one of his conversations with his friends had reportedly 'boasted' of planning to target rationalist and noted writer K.S. Bhagwan on the lines of Gauri. “There must have been a police informant in the group, who allegedly leaked the conversation to the SIT,” a top source said.
The CCB, which had earlier arrested him, had recorded his statement in which Kumar has reportedly admitted that he was planning to target Bhagwan. The SIT took him into police custody and has interrogated him, but "so far they have not been able to link Kumar to Gauri’s murder,” said a source on condition of anonymity.
Kumar is a Hindutva activist and member of a self styled ‘Hindu Yuva Sena’ in Maddur. “He organizes Dharma Jagruti Sabhas to raise awareness on Hindu rituals and practices, which are more focused on married women and how they should conduct pujas. He has also conducted multiple blood donation camps. He had organized a Dharma Jagruti Sabha in Maddur last year to protest against illegal conversion of Hindus to Islam and Christianity. His activism had drawn the ire of the then home minister K.J. George. I have known Kumar for two years now and had invited him to attend the Hindu convention, which we had organized in Bengaluru in January this year,” said spokesperson of Hindu Jan Jagran Samithi (HJJS) Mohan Gowda.
Kumar is also a member of Goa-based ‘Sanatan Sanstha,’ which has been linked to the assassinations of rationalists – Prof Dabholkar in Pune, comrade Govind Pansare in Kolhapur and Prof M.M. Kalburgi in Dharwad. However speaking to this newspaper, Chetan Rajhans, spokesperson of the Sanstha denied that Kumar was a member of the Sanstha.
“This is the first time we have heard his name through media. The Sanatan Sanstha is a spiritual organization and is spread across 10 to 12 states. We do not have members or volunteers. We are not into contract killing. There is a sinister and systemic propaganda by the Leftists to tarnish the image of the Sanstha. People associated with us – Virendra Tawde and Samir Gaikwad - have been dragged in the murder cases but the court let them out on bail because the police had no evidence against them. The other two accused in the Dabholkar and Pansare murder cases – Vinay Pawar and Sarang Akolkar are absconding. The police instead of going after the real culprits have named them conveniently. Nobody knows whether they are alive or dead,” said Rajhans.