The Karnataka government is considering handing over the investigation into the murder of rationalist MM Kalburgi to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case. According sources, the Home Department has already held discussions with the SIT and senior police officers on the matter.
These discussions come as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is expected to inform the Supreme Court, on Monday, 14 January, whether they would take over the investigations into murders of four rationalists – MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh.
While the SIT has arrested 16 men and submitted a 9,235-page charge sheet in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is yet to make a breakthrough in the Kalburgi murder case.
Umadevi, Kalburgi’s wife, in her petition filed in the Supreme Court, had slammed the CID for its ineffective probe. She also alleged that there was common link between the murder of her husband and other three rationalists, following which, the top court suggested a unified probe by the CBI.
‘SIT Best Suited For the Job’
The only breakthrough in the Kalburgi murder case came during the investigation into Gauri Lankesh’s murder. Two men who were part of the team that murdered Gauri Lankesh, in their voluntary statements to the SIT, claimed they had conducted the recce of Kalburgi’s house before his murder in 2015.
Ganesh Miskin, 28, and Amit Ramachandra Baddi, 27, were arrested from Hubli district in north Karnataka by a team of the SIT, on 22 July 2018. According to the SIT, the two men were present at the crime scene on 5 September, on the night of Lankesh’s murder. Miskin took the assassin, Parashuram Waghmore, to Lankesh’s house on a motorcycle, while Baddi provided logistical support.
Although this information was handed over to the CID by the SIT, no further developments have taken in the case. The CID took custody of these two men, who are now back at the Bengaluru central jail.
“Considering the SIT was able to find a crucial link between the murders of Gauri Lankesh and MM Kalburgi, the government thinks it would be ideal to handover the probe to the SIT. Also, several officers from the CID are already part of the SIT. The discussion are on,” said a source.
The Common Link Between The Four
The common link among the four murder cases – of Gauri Lankesh, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Narendra Dhabolkar – are giving merit to the proposal for a unified probe by a central agency.
Apart from the involvement of these two men, forensic reports proved that the same weapon was used to murder Gauri Lankesh and MM Kalburgi.
During the same time, Maharashtra SIT probing Pansare’s murder compared the two weapons used to kill Pansare with the weapon used to murder Gauri and Kalburgi. The forensic report concluded that one of the weapons was same as the one used to murder Lankesh and Kalburgi.
Similarly, common links were found between Lankesh’s murder and the killing of Dabholkar as well. During the interrogation of fifty-year-old Rajesh Bangera, who provided arms training to Lankesh’s killers, it was learnt that Bangera had trained Dabholkar’s killers as well.
CBI to Take a Call
After Umadevi filed a petition in Supreme Court, the SC had sorted a status report from Karnataka Police. Karnataka Police, in their status report, had told the top court that there appears to be an ‘intimate connection’ between the murders.
Following this, a bench of Justices UU Lalit and Navin Sinha asked the CBI to inform it by January first week as to why it should not investigate all the four cases if there appears a link among all the murders.
Lankesh’s family had said they would oppose the decision to handover the probe to the CBI, as the SIT probe was able to catch the culprits.
“The SIT led by IG BK Singh and investigation officer MN Anucheth did brilliant work by arresting the accused in the case. It filed two charge sheets also. When there is so much headway, it does not make any sense to hand over the case to the CBI,” Kavitha, Lankesh’s sister, had told PTI.
Now, the question remains whether the government will be able to convince Kalburgi’s wife to agree to a SIT probe or whether on Monday, all four cases will be handed over to the CBI.