Various Hindu Group Members Colluded: SIT on Gauri Lankesh Murder
A collusion between radical elements from various Hindu fringe groups is likely behind Gauri Lankesh’s murder.
The charge sheet in the Gauri Lankesh murder case offers no cues on the involvement of any organisation in the murder conspiracy. Even though the six men in police’s custody have links with various Hindu fringe groups, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) hasn’t indicted these organisations to the murder conspiracy .
The investigation into the recruitment of the two men, arrested for Gauri’s murder, however, has shed light on a collusion between radical elements from various Hindu fringe outfits from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa. The SIT believes this group, consisting of members recruited from various Hindu organisations, is behind the murder of Gauri Lankesh, and possibly behind the murders of other rationalists.
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The SIT has found that the men in their custody came from various backgrounds and Hindu organisations. Sanathan Sansta, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Sri Ram Sene and Hindu Yuva Sene, which are among these organisations, are spread across the Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa .
The involvement of their parent organisations in the activities of this guild remains unclear. However, the statements given by suspects show that the talks, public meetings and conventions organised by their parent organisations were used by these men to recruit soldiers for their cause of ‘attacking those opposing Hinduism’.
Accused’s Wife Spill Beans on Religious Conventions
The first mention of Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu right-wing organisation, followers of which are allegedly involved in the Goa bomb blast in 2009, appeared officially in the Gauri Lankesh case, in the statement of Roopa, wife of Naveen Kumar.
Naveen, a gunrunner and the founder of Hindu Yuva Sene, is accused of supplying bullets and providing logistical support to Lankesh’s killers. He was also the first person to be arrested by the SIT in the case.
In her statement, a copy of which is available with The Quint, she claims her husband’s association with Sanatan Sanstha began in 2017. She added that her husband had introduced her to some men from ‘Sanatan Dharma Sanstha’ after attending a programme in Shimoga district, in 2017.
Her statement goes on to add that her husband was among the 400 Hindu activists selected for a ‘Dharma Shikshana Sammelana’, a religious convention, organised by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, affiliate organisation of Sanatan Sanstha, in Ponda, Goa (in early 2017).
According to the SIT, few days after this convention, Naveen received a call from a conspirator in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, Praveen. He requested Naveen for a meeting and in their subsequent meetings, the plan to murder Lankesh was discussed.
A Fiery Speech And An Impressed Recruiter
Apart from talking about her husband’s association with the Sanatan Sanstha and him attending ‘Dharma Shikshana Sammelana’ convention in 2017, the wife’s statement threw little light into Naveen’s recruitment.
The details of Naveen’s recruitment could be found in his statement recorded as part of the charge sheet.
Naveen claims it was Mohan Kumar, a member of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, who introduced him to Praveen. Naveen had met Mohan Kumar during the Dharma Shikshana Sammelana, in Goa, mentioned by his wife.
“I participated in the discussion and expressed my personal view that the use of weapons and arms is necessary to protect the Hindu dharma… Impressed by my speech, many people congratulated me, including Mohan Gowda. I told him I can procure guns and bullets. He told me there were many like-minded people and they would be contacting me in the coming days,” read Naveen’s statement.
Within few days of the convention Naveen received a call from Praveen. Praveen, who called from a public telephone booth, gave him Mohan Gowda’s reference. Gowda later asked Naveen to help Praveen with his plans.
The charge sheet includes one mahazar report of a BBMP park in Vijaynagar in front of Adichunchunagiri Math, in Bengaluru where Naveen and Praveen met and conspired to kill Lankesh on 19 August, 2017, after attending a Dharma Shikshana Sammelana held in Bengaluru.
Recruitment of the Killer Happened at a Religious Event Too
The charge sheet against Parashuram Waghmore, the man who allegedly shot Gauri Lankesh, is yet to be prepared. However, SIT sources said Waghmare was recruited during a convention in Karnataka, similar to Dharma Shikshana Sammelana held in Goa.
Sources said that 28-year-old Manohar Edave, a resident of Vijayapura and a conspirator in the Guari Lankesh murder, was Waghmore’s recruiter. Parashuram Waghmore was a member of the Hindu organisation – Sri Ram Sene – and was among the six people arrested for raising a Pakistan flag in front of the tehsildar’s office to create communal tensions in Sindagi town in 2012, which made him the ideal candidate for the guild.
After identifying Waghmore, Edave put him in touch with Praveen Kumar, who introduced him to the main conspirator of murder plot, Amol Kale. They also added that a background check was conducted to ensure Waghmore was the right candidate.
According to the SIT, a clear pattern of uniting the radical elements within various right-wing organisations resulted in the murder of Gauri Lankesh and hatched a conspiracy to murder another rationalist KS Bhagwan.
As these guild members acted independent of their parent organisation, there is not enough evidence to link the parent organisation to the murder. But the SIT believes the arrest of three absconding men, who are believed to handlers of the guild, would can be crucial in unveiling the mystery around the unsolved murder of rationalists.
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