Bengaluru: In a major development in the murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, SIT officials have questioned around 15 people including members of Sanatan Sanstha, which has been under police radar for years now. Sources privy to the development said that an SIT team was already in Goa where Sanatan Sanstha’s Ashram is located while another team has landed in Mumbai.
“The team has already made a visit to the Ashram and have spoken to the member there. They have gathered details required for the probe. Similarly, another team is in Mumbai and it has gone there to question some members of Sanatan Sanstha, who are active there,” an official said.
As the ballistic report by the FSL suggested that the mechanism of crime and the weapons used in the murders of rationalists Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, Dr. M. M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh had striking similarities, and as the investigators in earlier murder cases suspected Sanatan Sanstha’s role in all the three cases, the SIT is investigating whether the right wing Hindu group has any links to Ms. Lankesh’s murder.
Sanatan Sanstha has been in the news for the wrong reasons for years now, as those owing allegiance with it, were arrested in bomb blast cases in the past. It may be recalled that the National Investigation Agency had also issued Red Corner notice against three of its members including Rudra Patil, who is suspected to be the mastermind of the Goa blast case in 2009. His role was also suspected in the murder of Govind Pansare.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that the SIT visited offices of some pro-Hindu outfits in the city and questioned its members as part of the probe.
Premalatha Diwakar, who had accused the seer of Sri Ramachandrapura Math Raghaveshawara Swami of raping her — he was later acquitted by the court — has also given a petition to the SIT stating that she suspected followers of the seer to be behind Gauri Lankesh’s murder. “She has stated that Ms. Lankesh wrote a series of articles against the seer when the rape case was under investigation. Thus, she suspects that the seer’s followers could be behind the murder. That will be looked into,” the official said.