The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh suspects the role of four top leaders, including a retired Indian Army Colonel of a right-wing organisation, in the murder. SIT probe suggests that the involvement of these men in conceivingÂ the plot to kill Gauri and other rationalists. There are reports suggesting that the outfit is the extremist cult known as the Sannatan Sanstha.
According to The New Indian Express report,Â the accused had revealed that the six accused in the case were the executors of the murder plot and that the investigators have launched a hunt for four more persons connected to the murder. â€œThere is a suspicion that a retired Army Colonel who became a member of a pro-Hindutva outfit is one of the four men who hatched the plot,â€ the SIT source added.
The SIT is in the process of gathering evidence against the four suspects and catch them. they are suspected to have instigated Amol Kale, a suspect in the case, to kill Gauri Lankesh.
A senior SIT official, on condition of anonymity, said. â€œThe four hold key positions in a right-wing organisation and one among them is a retired Colonel. Though we believe that the call for the murder was given by them, there is no substantial evidence against them. We are working on gathering evidence against them,â€ A senior SIT official, on condition of anonymity, hasÂ said.
â€œAmol Kale was shown several speeches that were given by Gauri Lankesh, by these four persons. After instigating Kale, they convinced him that Gauri Lankesh was to be killed as she had made derogatory statements against the Hindu religion and Hindu gods,â€ the source added.
Initially, the investigation had revealed that Amol Kale was the handler of the other five accused. However, after Kaleâ€™s questioning, it seems more people were involved, the source said. These four men hold important positions in the pro-Hindutva outfit and after the arrest of the six men â€“ Amol Kale, Amit Degvekar, Manohar Edave, Sujeet Kumar, KT Naveen Kumar and Parashuram Waghmore, the pro-Hindutva organisation is trying to shield these four men. â€œOne of the people we are looking for is Nihal alias Dada. At least three of the four men are being shielded by this organisation which is funding them while they remain underground,â€ the SIT source added.
Kale is said to have received Rs 1.25 lakh per month to handle the logistics for Lankeshâ€™s murder.
Earlier, the State Forensic Science Laboratory had confirmed in a report that the same gun that was used to kill Gauri Lankesh, was used as a murder weapon to kill rationalist MM Kalburgi in Karnataka. Three of the suspects namely Patil, Akolkar and Pawar were also key suspects in the murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, leftist thinker and rationalist Govind Pansare, and Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi.
Gauri Lankesh was an Indian journalist-turned-activist and a staunch critic of right-wing Hindu extremism from Bangalore, Karnataka who worked as an editor in Lankesh PatrikeÂ and ran her own weekly called Gauri Lankesh Patrike. She was shot to death by allegedly pro-Hindutwa assailants outside her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar on September 5, 2017.