Just on the heels of the 10th suspect being arrested in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, the Special Investigating Team has now arrested a man who was initially a prime witness in the killing. This brings the total number of arrests to 11 in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.
According to an SIT source, sleuths arrested Suresh Kumar, 36-year-old a private school teacher from Kunigal, after receiving information that he had vital information regarding the murder.
The SIT had turned Suresh Kumar into a witness after the investigators found that one of the accused, Amol Kale, was housed by Suresh Kumar at his residence in Seegehalli since mid-June 2017 till the day of the murder.
SIT sources say that Suresh Kumar had given a statement as a witness, alleging that he helped the accused in the case locate Gauri Lankesh’s house and that he was also instrumental in tracking down some of the accused in the case.
Suresh Kumar was produced before the magistrate and was remanded to judicial custody. The court, however, denied the SIT’s request for 8-day police custody after Suresh alleged that the police had slapped him and assaulted him before arresting him.
“He also said we (SIT investigators) had coached him to plead guilty. Hence, the court did not grant police custody,” the source said.
According to SIT sources, Suresh Kumar was allegedly a friend of Amol Kale and the two had met at a religious convention of organised by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. He had allegedly allowed Amol Kale to live in his house for over a month-and-a-half before Gauri Lankesh was killed.
It was not only Kale, but also the other accused, including Parashuram Waghmore and Manohar Edave, who had allegedly visited Kale at the Seegehalli residence before the murder.
“Suresh Kumar knew of their plans and he was a witness, but we learnt that he had withheld a lot of crucial information and had obstructed the course of the investigation,” said SIT sources.
According to Bangalore Mirror, SIT sleuths believe that Suresh Kumar and the other two accused including Mohan Nayak and Ganesh Miskin were the ones who procured and disposed the vehicles used for the crime. The SIT is grilling the suspects to locate the vehicles.
Suresh Kumar was allegedly first questioned by the SIT in June. Suresh Kumar’s lawyer had filed an application for medical help after alleging that the police had assaulted him. The court accepted the petition and is expected to hear it on Friday, the BM report states.
Currently, the SIT has arrested 11 men and is searching for Amol Kale’s suspected handler Dada alias Nihal.
Earlier, the SIT had arrested Amit Degwekar from Goa, Sujeet Kumar from Shivamogga, Manohar Edave from Vijayapura, KT Naveen Kumar from Maddur and Mohan Nayak from Dakshina Kannada. The SIT believes that Amol Kale and Dada were the planners and had recruited Edave, Degwekar, Waghmore and others to execute the crime.
Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwari Nagar on the night of September 5, 2017. She had sustained three bullet wounds which proved fatal.
In February, the SIT arrested KT Naveen Kumar. It was only after his arrest that an entire gang of suspects were nabbed.
The SIT also uncovered the gang’s connection to an underground pro-Hindutva fringe group and that the gang had also conspired to kill several rationalists and progressive thinkers. The SIT had found, in Amol Kale’s diary a list of 36 names, whom the gang had planned to kill.