Gauri’s Family to Wait and Watch As Kalburgi’s Wife Seeks SC Aid

Kalburgi’s wife had approached the SC given the similarities in the way her husband, Pansare and Gauri were murdered

4 min read
MM Kalburgi (left) and Gauri Lankesh (right).

The Supreme Court had, earlier this week, asked for responses from country’s premier investigative agencies and three state governments on setting up a coordinated, multi-agency investigation team to probe the murder of rationalist MM Kalburgi.

The decision was based on a petition filed by Uma Devi, the window of Prof Kalburgi, who expressed her concerns over the Karnataka’s government’s inability to catch the killers even after two years.

Following this development, the family of activist and journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was assassinated a similar manner, said they will not be asking for a similar probe or a probe by any central agencies, as of now.

The family are in constant touch with the Karnataka police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) and they have confidence in the investigation.

We Have Confidence In The SIT – Kavitha Lankesh

A grieving Kavitha Lankesh, Gauri Lankesh’s sister.
A grieving Kavitha Lankesh, Gauri Lankesh’s sister.
(Photo: PTI)

Talking to The Quint, Kavitha Lankesh, sister of Gauri Lankesh, said that the family is not considering a similar plea for a coordinated investigation at the moment.

Few months earlier, in a press conference, the family had said that if the SIT didn’t make progress in the case, they would consider asking for a central agency probe.

However, the family is confident of Karnataka police SIT cracking the case, said Kavitha.

“We are aware of the petition in the Supreme Court regarding MM Kalburgi case, but we will not approach the court asking for a probe by a central agency or any other SIT. The (Karnataka) SIT is in touch with us and they have been updating us on the developments. We want to give them time to conduct a thorough investigation,” she said.

The Supreme Court’s Notice In Kalburgi Case

Rationalist MM Kalburgi’s death leaves everyone shocked. (Photo: AP screengrab)
Rationalist MM Kalburgi’s death leaves everyone shocked. (Photo: AP screengrab)

On 10 January, the Supreme Court sent notices to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the governments of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa asking for their opinion on a demand for a coordinated investigation into the murder of MM Kalburgi.

The notices were issued based on a plea by Uma Devi, the widow of Kalburgi. Citing the similarities with the murders of other rationalists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar, Uma Devi asked for a coordinated probe into her husband's murder by a special investigation team under the supervision of a retired judge of a high court or the Supreme Court.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, took note of the petition and sought the response of the investigative agencies and the two states within six weeks.

The Kalburgi Murder and Investigation

On 30 August 2015, two men pretending to be students knocked on the door of his house in Dharwad’s Kalyan Nagar. His wife, who is used to fans and visitors, let them in and went to fetch coffee for the guests. The two men then walked up to Kalburgi and shot him twice at close range.

During the investigation, the Karnataka CID found a resemblance between one of the sketches and Rudra Patil, a member of Sanatan Sanstha, who was wanted in the 2009 Goa bomb blast case. However, Rudra Patil had gone underground by then.

While probing the connections, the CID learnt that another member of Sanatan Sanstha, Sameer Gaikwad, was in touch with Rudra Patil. He was arrested by Maharashtra SIT in connection with the murder of another rationalist, Govind Pansare.

However, his interrogation led them nowhere, as he categorically denied being part of any conspiracy to kill Kalburgi. Since then the CID has been on the lookout for Rudra Patil and has probed other angles as well. However, the investigation lost momentum.

Similarities Between Gauri Lankesh and Kalburgi Murders

Senior journalist Gauri Lankesh.
Senior journalist Gauri Lankesh.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

On 5 July 2017, when Gauri Lankesh was shot dead, parallels were drawn between the two murders. Like in the Kalburgi murder, an attacker who came in a motorcycle walked up to Gauri and shot her from point-blank range. The investigation revealed that a 7.65mm country-made pistol, similar to what was used to kill Kalburgi, was used in the Gauri Lankesh murder as well. However, the SIT is yet to conduct the ballistic test of the cartridges recovered from both murder scenes, to ascertain whether the same pistol was used in both the murders.

SIT Yet To Make A Breakthrough

Despite multiple claims by Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy that they would soon crack the case, the SIT probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case has not made any breakthrough.

The team had gone through footage from more than 700 CCTV cameras and checked thousands of vehicles matching the description of the killer’s transport. The team also visited Maharashtra and Goa, where they collected information about a religious group, which was earlier involved in a bomb blast case.

Despite all of this, the cops remain clueless about who killed Gauri Lankesh.

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