A forensic report put forth in front of a Bengaluru court by the Karnataka Police Special Investigation Team has suggested that veteran journalist Gauri Lankesh and Kannada scholar and researcher MM Kalburgi were shot with the same 7.65 mm country gun, reported The Indian Express.
The report, which was attached to the FIR filed in Lankesh’s murder case, is the first official indication of a direct connection between the two murders put forth by any qualified government agency, according to the daily.
Sources close to the police told the newspaper that the report’s findings can draw the conclusion that a common group of assassins had shot both Lankesh and Kalburgi on 5 September 2017 and 30 August 2015 respectively.
The report was provided by Kiran Kumar M, an assistant director of the firearms section of the State Forensic Science Laboratory, to MN Anucheth, who is the chief investigation officer of the SIT.
The forensic report further stated that the bullets and cartridges used in both the murders “have been fired through a single country made pistol chambered for 7.65 mm caliber pistol cartridges”, the report adds.
The police had recovered three bullets from Lankesh’s body after she had been killed and one other that had missed her, as well as their four empty cartridges. These were compared to the two bullets and cartridges that they had found on Kalburgi.
The bullets in article no 6, 18 and 19 (the Lankesh case) and the bullets in article no 2 and 3 concerned in Vidyagiri P S Cr No 142/15 vide FAS/150/15 (the Kalburgi case) have been fired through a single country made pistol chambered for 7.65 mm caliber pistol cartridges.A part of the Forensic report put forth by the SIT
Further, the report compared the “class characteristic marks” and “individual characteristic marks” of the firing pin on cartridge cases in the two murder cases, which it found to be “tallying”, reports The Indian Express.
It also found the “microstriation lines”, or microscopic scratches, on the bullets recovered to be “tallying among themselves” and with “those in the other case”.
Analysing these marks on the cartridges, the report confirmed that they had been fired from the same 7.65 mm pistol.
Shooter Still At Large
The SIT, in its report however, also said that the shooter in Lankesh’s murder case, was “still at large”.
The police have also confirmed that the shooter is not among the five accused, who have been arrested in connection with the murder, reports The Hindu.
Technical analysis of the visuals clearly shows the shooter was around 5 feet 1 inch, shorter than Gauri, and was plump. None of the five persons arrested so far match the person in the visual.A senior police officer to The Hindu
While two of the five accused in the case, KT Naveen Kumar and Amit Degwekar, matched the alleged height of the shooter, neither of them have been identified as the same, by the police.
This is because Kumar was reportedly in Sanatan Ashram, Mangaluru on the day of the incident, according to the statement of his wife Roopa and Degwekar did not match the build of the shooter shown in the footage, reports The Hindu.
The SIT did however say that while they were sure that none of the arrested accused were the shooter, they haven’t ruled out the possibility that one of them might have been the motorcyclist who had accompanied him.