SIT files charge sheet in Gauri Lankesh murder case

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BENGALURU: The Special Investigation Team probing the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh today filed its first charge sheet in the sensational case, naming alleged gunrunner and Hindutva activist T Naveen Kumar as an accused.
The 650-page charge sheet filed before the First Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate details the role of Naveen Kumar alone as an accomplice in the murder, which had triggered a nationwide outrage.
Naveen Kumar has been charged under section 302 (murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 118 (concealing a conspiracy) and 114 (abetment to the crime) of the IPC, and also under provisions of the Arms Act, SIT sources told PTI.
The charge sheet contains the statement of about 131 witnesses, the sources said. The SIT has submitted that it would submit more documents relating to the case in future.
Lankesh, 55, known for her left-leaning and strong anti-Hindutva views, was shot dead in front of her house here on September five last year.
Naveen Kumar was arrested for alleged illegal possession of firearm and ammunition on February 18.
During the probe, the SIT claimed, it had found evidence of his involvement in the killing of Lankesh, and also arrested him in that case. The Arms Act case against Naveen Kumar would be heard by a city court tomorrow.
Naveen Kumar, hailing from Maddur in Mandya district, was arrested with a firearm and bullets when he was waiting for a client at Majestic bus stand here.
Sources claimed he had not only supplied firearms to the assassins of Lankesh but also conducted a recce of the area around her residence and provided them vital inputs about her. He is also suspected to have ferried the prime accused to a place close to Lankesh’s house.
Police said Naveen Kumar had named a man from Shivamogga Praveen Kumar, arrested by the city police in connection with an illegal arms case in May, in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.
The sources said the SIT has taken into custody four more people suspected of involvement in Lankesh’s killing.
They have been identified as Manohar Edve (30), Sujith Kumar alias Praveen (37), Amol Kale alias Bhaisab (40) and Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep.
While Edve and Praveen are from Karnataka, Kale and Degvekar are from Maharashtra and Goa respectively.
They were arrested for hatching a plan to kill Kannada writer K S Bhagawan, known for his anti-Hindutva stance, the sources said.
“Their involvement in Gauri Lankesh case is very much likely. That’s why we have taken them into custody and are interrogating them closely,” said a source in the SIT.