The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the cold-blooded murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh has revealed many chilling details.
Sources in the SIT say that Parashuram Waghmore, the man accused of shooting Gauri, was shown videos of her speeches to instigate him.
“When search operations were conducted in several locations in Karnataka, several gadgets and diaries were recovered from the accused. A video was found in Amol Kale’s tablet. It was a speech made by Gauri Lankesh in Mangaluru, about rejecting communal elements. This video was shown to Parashuram Waghmore and he was told that Gauri was against Hindu gods and must be killed,” SIT sources revealed.
Sources say that Waghmore was initially paid an advance of Rs 3,000 for travel expenses and later given Rs 10,000 after he allegedly shot and killed the journalist.
Six men affiliated to the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti were arrested in connection with the murder of Gauri Lankesh. Amol Kale (37) from Pune, Sujeet Kumar (38) from Shikaripura, Amit Degwekar (38) from Goa and Manohar Edave (29) from Vijayapura were allegedly involved in recruiting around 60 people in Karnataka for covert activities, the SIT has found.
The investigators also found that the recruits were members of pro-Hindutva outfits and were handpicked by Amol Kale and his handlers, and trained to handle guns and petrol bombs.
An SIT source said that half of these recruits have been identified and reported to the internal security department of the Karnataka State Police.
Among those who were recruited and trained was Parashuram Waghmore, a former activist of the Sri Rama Sene and resident of Vijayapura, and KT Naveen Kumar, who was recruited to provide logistical support in the alleged plot to kill Professor KS Bhagwan in Mysuru.
“The information about those recruited by Amol Kale and Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen was found in Kale’s diary. It also had the names of 36 writers and thinkers, who we suspect were potential targets of the group. Kale and Sujeet Kumar were the primary recruiters and trainers of these potential assassins,” the SIT source said.
The SIT source said that Sujeet Kumar was allegedly in-charge of identifying those who would fit the profile set by the group as “potential assassins”.
The recruits were allegedly trained secretly in the use of petrol bombs for causing disruptions and also in the use of guns.
Waghmore was allegedly recruited by Sujeet Kumar after being released from prison for causing violence in Vijayapura after he hoisted the Pakistan flag in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in 2012.
“The profile that Sujeet Kumar and his gang were looking for had a few criteria. The recruit should have been someone who was firstly a member of a pro-Hindutva group. The person had to have been willing to take any step to protect the Hindutva ideology. Sujeet Kumar was in charge of scouting for these recruits,” the SIT source said.
Sujeet Kumar would then recommend the names of these potential recruits to Amol Kale, who was in-charge of scrutinising the persons who were recommended.
“Even in Gauri Lankesh’s case, Sujeet Kumar recommended Waghmore to Kale. After scrutinising his background and convincing Waghmore that Gauri must be killed, he was trained in the use of firearms by Kale,” the source said.
The covert group had allegedly identified potential candidates for carrying out underground activities and their meetings would take place through gatherings of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Sri Rama Sene, Hindu Yuva Sene and other smaller groups.
“Sujeet Kumar would meet them in conventions organised by these groups. His job was to closely note every speech made at these conventions and pick out those persons who were likely to use force to protect the Hindutva agenda. He recruited KT Naveen Kumar after hearing his speech on how the use of firearms was necessary to ward of an alleged threat to Hindu religion,” the SIT source added.
The SIT suspects that this covert group was also involved in similar activities in other states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.
“It is possible that this covert group was formed because the Dharma Shakti Sena (DSS) was dissolved. DSS was created by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in 2008 to provide training in firearms and martial arts for Hindu youths. Their ideology was that an army was necessary to protect Hindu religion. It is possible that this group emerged as a successor of the DSS as it was not possible for them to operate openly,” the source added.