Three suspects identified in Gauri Lankesh’s murder case.
Three suspects identified in Gauri Lankesh’s murder case.(Photo: The Quint)
  • 1. Naveen Kumar, the Gunrunner
  • 2. Praveen, the Recruiter
  • 3. Amol Kale, the Alleged Mastermind
  • 4. The Four Secret Diaries
  • 5. Parashuram Waghmore, the Alleged Assassin
  • 6. The Rider, Back-up and 'Noodle-legs'
  • 7. 'Sampa', the Acupuncture Guy
  • 8. Rajesh Bangera, the Weapons Trainer
  • 9. The Witness Turned Accused
  • 10. The Uncle and Farmhouse
  • 11. Tying Loose Ends
How the Karnataka SIT Cracked the Gauri Lankesh Murder Case

Seconds before killing journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in cold blood, the attacker took up his shooting position. With his left leg forward and slightly bent for stability, he held the weapon in both hands. Using his left arm to support the pistol, he aimed and fired four times.

The attacker appears in the CCTV camera footage for a mere four seconds. The stance he took to fire the bullets was that of a trained shooter.

This was the only clue the Special Investigation Team (SIT) had for the first three months of its investigation into the Gauri Lankesh murder case.

Instead of waiting for a miracle, the SIT launched a massive surveillance programme, with the hope of finding a needle in a haystack.

The SIT collected call details from 15 days prior to Lankesh’s death, and the information was stored in a server built exclusively for the investigation. The team then heard calls made by more than 100 telephone numbers. Their patience paid off. The SIT intercepted the call of a man with a tendency to boast, and after that, over the next nine months, the team identified the gang behind the murder.

Here is how the SIT cracked the Gauri Lankesh murder case.

  • 1. Naveen Kumar, the Gunrunner

    Three suspects identified in Gauri Lankesh’s murder case.
    Naveen Kumar. A phone conversation with him was the first breakthrough in the case. 
    Photo: The Quint

    During the first three months of the investigation, one of the teams of the SIT kept tabs on more than 100 mobile phones of right-wing activists with criminal pasts. The monitoring room at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) office looked like a call centre, with the several cops listening in on hundreds of calls.

    In the first week of November, a call made to Naveen Kumar, the founder of right-wing organisation Hindu Yuva Sene, caught the SIT’s attention.

    During the call, while explaining his absence, Naveen Kumar said he was underground following a big case. Which big case? “Gauri Lankesh,” he told the person on the line.

    The SIT had got its first real lead.

    After that, the SIT closely monitored every call made to his phone, but they led nowhere. The investigators soon deduced that Naveen Kumar was using another mobile phone and tracing it down became the next challenge.

    The solution came from the database of calls they had stored. The cops mapped the changing locations of Naveen Kumar’s phone, and compared it with the locations of other phones travelling on the same route.

    This is how they deduced Naveen Kumar’s other number.

    The alternative number had only incoming calls and all of them were made from public telephone booths. All of these calls were from one man, whose voice the team was familiar with by now. He gave Naveen Kumar instructions, but in code.

    During one of these calls, Naveen Kumar addressed the man as Praveen anna. Now the SIT had a second piece of the puzzle – Praveen.

    To get to Praveen, the SIT decided to keep Naveen Kumar under human surveillance. He was trailed by cops. Three shifts, round the clock, from November to February, until he was finally arrested.

Edited By: Riniki Sanyal

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