Bengaluru: Investigations have revealed that Hindu Yuva Sena leader KT Naveen Kumar, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, was also tasked to kill writer-rationalist KS Bhagwan, a strident critic of practices and beliefs in the Hindu religious system, in Mysuru.
The conspirators behind the murder of Gauri Lankesh were impressed by logistical support provided by Naveen Kumar in carrying out the gruesome killing.
According to a report in The Indian Express, sources have claimed that KT Naveen Kumar was amid the process of procuring a gun to kill Bhagwan when he was arrested by the Bengaluru police for illegal possession of bullets on February 18.
It is suspected that KT Naveen Kumar had conducted a survey at the house of Gauri Lankesh, procured a weapon and facilitated a shooting operation by a team that had already visited Karnataka.
Journalist and social activist Gauri Lankesh was murdered outside her house in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017.
On Monday, KT Naveen Kumar gave his consent to undergo narco-analysis test before a magistrate’s court in Bengaluru. The test is expected to help the investigating officers determine the extent of his role in the conspiracy, gather additional inputs and to verify statements given till now.
MN Anucheth, Bengaluru Deputy Commissioner of Police (West), who is also the investigating officer in the SIT probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case, said, “The alleged murder plot to kill writer-rationalist K S Bhagwan would now be pursued under sections of the Indian Penal Code for attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy case and not just an illegal arms case.”
The addition of these sections will implicate KT Naveen Kumar in the attempt to murder Bhagwan. Though Kumar has been granted bail in the Arms Act case, police will file a revision petition to consider the serious, new charges and reject bail, added Anucheth.
A sealed copy of a voluntary statement provided by KT Naveen Kumar about his role in the two conspiracies was given to a magistrate before whom he was presented on March 2 in connection with Gauri Lankesh murder case.
A delay of one week in arresting KT Naveen Kumar in February would have resulted in a murder attempt on Bhagwan, sources said.
Some close aides who KT Naveen Kumar had involved in the conspiracy to murder Bhagwan have provided evidence during the investigation to indicate the stage of planning of the operation, such as a visit by some outsiders speaking a different language.
According to police sources, investigations revealed that a weapon was to be delivered to KT Naveen Kumar, who had initially claimed that he was to procure a weapon from outside Karnataka, in the state through an arms and ammunition network that he had used for a few years.
When KT Naveen Kumar was arrested in February, he was possessing 15 rounds of .32 calibre live cartridges which are the equivalent of 7.65 mm cartridges.
Investigators believe that the plan to murder Bhagwan with a new weapon was likely to be an attempt to divert attention from the Gauri Lankesh case as probe had indicated that she was shot with a 7.65 mm country-made gun. The same weapon was used to kill Kannada literary researcher and scholar MM Kalburgi in August 2015 and leftist thinker Govind Pansare in February 2015.