New Leads in Kalburgi Murder Case, Thanks to Gauri Lankesh
Gauri Lankesh and MM Kalburgi.
Gauri Lankesh and MM Kalburgi.(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

New Leads in Kalburgi Murder Case, Thanks to Gauri Lankesh

Gauri Lankesh was at the forefront of the demand for a speedy investigation into the murder of rationalist professor MM Kalburgi, which was swept under the carpet. Years later, Lankesh remains instrumental in raking up Kalburgi’s murder case as leads from the probe into her murder has offered new leads into his death probe.

It was three years ago, on 30 August, that two men, pretending to be students, knocked on the doors of professor MM Kalburgi’s house in North Karnataka’s Dharwad district. One of the men walked up to the professor and shot him twice at point-blank range. 

It was the first case in the state where a rationalist was murdered, but the investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) saw many dead ends and eventually led nowhere.

From a protest after rationalist MM Kalburgi 
From a protest after rationalist MM Kalburgi 
(Photo: AP screengrab)

But in recent developments, a week before professor Kalburgi’s death anniversary, the investigation into his murder has been revived, thanks to a crucial piece of information from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of Gauri Lankesh.

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.

The Common Thread in Two Murders

Ganesh Miskin and Amit Batti, after being produced before a court in Bengaluru. 
Ganesh Miskin and Amit Batti, after being produced before a court in Bengaluru. 
(Photo: PTI)

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. Hubli is a twin city to Dharwad, where Kalburgi was murdered.

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. He was also present at the scene, when she was shot dead.

While the attack was underway, Baddi was in a van, not far from the house, waiting for the rider and killer. After the murder, Miskin and Wahgmore rode to the van parked on NICE road, in the Outer-Ring Road junction.

They handed over the weapon to Baddi and changed into different clothes, provided by Baddi. Later, they went their separate ways.

After their arrest on 22 July, they were taken into police custody and during their interrogation, the men claimed they conducted the recce for Kalburgi’s murder in 2015.

This was among the many inputs the SIT received during their interrogation. One of the details from the interrogation had led to the arrest for a terror module in Maharashtra. Fifty country-made bombs and the raw material required to make more than 50 bombs were recovered there.

CID to Take Custody of the Two Men

A senior CID officer, on Wednesday, said the CID has found merit in the leads provided by the SIT and they will be applying for the custody of the two men and others, soon. He said that the teams of the CID working on the Kalburgi case will be “reactivated” and “additional man power” will also be provided to the teams.

The CID has already questioned Miskin and Baddi in Parappanaa Agrahara jail, where they are currently lodged. The men, however, didn’t cooperate with the CID sleuths.

We will be taking the men into police custody to question them further. The paperwork for the same are being processed. At the same time, we are not depending merely on SIT’s leads. We will conduct an investigation and collect evidence against these men for their involvement in professor Kalburgi’s murder
A senior CID officer. 

The officer didn’t delve into the details of the investigation. However, he said that evidence collected by the SIT, such as the call records and mobile tower data, will be compared with the evidence collected by the CID team two years ago, as the first step in the investigation.

Lack of Trust in Each Other?

While the two teams are cooperating in the investigation – according to sources – the CID hesitated to act on the evidence first shared by the SIT.

According to sources in the CID, they wanted to collect enough evidence on their own before officially indicting the two men in the Kalburgi case. This is one of the reasons why more than a week after the SIT passed on the information on Kalburgi case, the CID is yet to take custody of the men.

However, the arrests and seizure by Maharashtra police has given the CID confidence. But the delay in taking custody of the two men implies, the CID will have to wait longer for their custody.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the murder of Narendra Dabholkar, another rationalist who was allegedly murdered by the same group, has also sought the custody of the men already in SIT’s custody, including Miskin and Baddi.

But as of now, the investigation by SIT has not led to any crackdown on a terror module in Maharashtra, but has rekindled hope in MM Kalburgi’s murder case.

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