Gauri Lankesh murder: Sensational disclosure by accused, says cops offered Rs 25 lakh to confess to murder

In a sensational disclosure, a suspect accused in Gauri Lankesh murder case has alleged that the Karnataka police offered him Rs 25 lakh to confess and admit that he had killed the activist-journalist last year. Another suspect claimed that the police forced him to accept the charges by threatening his family.

Parashuram Waghmare, one of the alleged shooters, while being taken to court, told NDTV that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) offered him Rs 25 lakh to accept the crime. Another suspect Manohar Edave denied his involvement in the case and said that the police threatened to incriminate his family and friends unless he confessed to the murder.

Waghmare and Edave are among 12 people arrested in connection with the murder of journalist and social activist Gauri Lankesh.

Lankesh, a fierce critic of the right-wing politics, was murdered outside her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar on 5 September 2017. In June 2018, the SIT said that Parashuram Waghmore confessed to the murder and alleged that he was told to kill someone to save his religion, and mentioned that he did not know who the victim was.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad took custody of two accused this month arrested for Lankesh murder in order to interrogate them in connection with the alleged plot to conduct disruptive activities in Maharashtra.

Last month, Maharashtra police Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested three members of a suspected right-wing Hindutva outfit and seized a huge cache of weapons and explosives. Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, one of the arrested men reportedly confessed to his role in the murder of Lankesh as well as rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi.

It has been alleged that the arrested men have ties with radical Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha which was founded by ‘hypnotherapist’ Jayant Balaji Athavale in 1999.

Source: Times Now

Far-right Terror Group Involved in Killings of Lankesh, Dabholkar and Kulbargi Tried to Procure AK-47s and Hand Grenades: Karnataka SIT

A Karnataka Police Special Investigation Team (SIT) official told IndiaScoops.com in an exclusive interview on condition of anonymity, that the arrested persons in the Gauri Lankesh murder case were not content using only country-made weapons. They wanted to prepare for an all-out war, or a confrontation by para-military forces.

The main conspirators had plans to set up a ‘commando team’ of about 20 highly-trained persons using imported weapons, in case their bomb and weapons manufacturing ‘factories’ were raided and surrounded by security forces.

However, before this could materialize, the Maharashtra ATS acting on a tip-off from the Karnataka SIT raided and seized a huge cache of country-made weapons which were being fabricated in different parts of Maharashtra, including Nalla Sopara near Mumbai, Pune and Satara.

Among the weapons seized by the ATS were about 20 pistols and finished parts for another 30 weapons, about 22 assembled bombs and explosives, detonators and timers enough to manufacture another 40 bombs.

The conspirators including the arrested Amol Kale had tried to inquire about the availability of military-grade grenades, hand-grenades and even AK-47 and AK-56 rifles and ammunition for the same from sources in Afghanistan.  They wanted to purchase 8 to 10  AK-47 rifles and about 100 hand grenades for emergency use in case of a confrontation with armed rival groups or if they were confronted and cornered by para-military forces.

While the same were available, transporting them to India from the Pak-Afghanistan border was the main hurdle. They had agreed on the price for the cache of weapons and even arranged for the funding. The money was to be sent in advance through hawala channels and the arms and ammunition would be dumped at a secluded and difficult spot on the Maharashtra coastline during the dead of the night, after moving through Pakistan, the official told IndiaScoops.com.

The arrested duo and two others were to pick up the consignment from the coast and hide the weapons in a village nearby about 15 kms from the Maharashtra coast,  only to transport them to safe houses, one at a time, to ensure that the entire cache was not lost or captured, in case the transporters were caught by the cops.

The conspirators had considered transporting the cache of imported weapons by road thru Pakistan and then through the sea. The two main far-right conspirators or masterminds were in touch with certain terror elements in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but there was a lack of trust between them.

Kale and his bosses did not trust the Afghanistani agent who had agreed to sell and transport the weapons. Since the amount was huge and the risk was too great,  the plan was aborted, the SIT official revealed to IndiaScoops.com.

After the seizure of explosives from Nallasopara last month, the Maharashtra Police has arrested at least ten people and said it will investigate their role in all detected and undetected cases, including the killings of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi and Lankesh.

According to a report in The Wire, during the interrogation, one of the arrested persons, Sharad Kalaskar, admitted to his involvement in Dabholkar’s killing, police had said.

On this information, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating Dabholkar’s killing, arrested Sachin Andure from Aurangabad.

According to The Wire, Kalaskar and Andure allegedly shot dead Dabholkar with two pistols in Pune, the official said.

The CBI had earlier arrested Virendrasing Tawade, the alleged ‘mastermind’ of the killing.

“During our investigation, it came to light that Tawade played a major role in the planning and execution of the three assassinations (Dabholkar, Lankesh and Kalburgi),” the official claimed.

While investigating Lankesh’s killing, the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) arrested Pune-based engineer Amol Kale, who had names and mobile numbers of the other group members in his diary, including Vaibhav Raut, Sudhanva Gondhalekar, Sharad Kalaskar and others, the official said.

Kalaskar had traveled to Karnataka to do a recce of Lankesh’s residence, he said.

As part of further probe, the Maharashtra ATS on Wednesday obtained the custody of Bharat Kurne and Sujeet Kumar, who were originally arrested by the Karnataka SIT in Lankesh’s killing case, in connection with the seizure of explosives from different parts of the state, reports The Wire.

Karnataka SIT alleges Maha ATS going slow on probe, contradicts Maha ATS report in Gauri Lankesh murder

The Maharashtra ATS claimed on Saturday that they have recovered a bike used by Ganesh Miskin and Gauri Lankesh suspected shooter Parashuram Waghmore, who rode pillion on the evening of September 5, 2017 when journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh was gunned down outside her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, but the Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka police probing the murder denied receiving any such information from Maharashtra ATS.

Yesterday, IndiaScoops.com had reported how the Maha ATS is under pressure from various political sources including the CM’s office (Read Here) to go slow and soft on the Hindutva terror investigation.  Now the Karnataka ATS sources allege that the Maharashtra ATS is not co-operating or not sharing information on a real-time basis, in spite of the advances in technology including Whats App groups, video sharing, etc., which facilitate real-time sharing of all info and data.

According to a report in the Deccan Chronicle, SIT chief B.K. Singh said that though reports of bike’s recovery are doing the rounds, the Maharashtra ATS had not yet informed SIT. “I read in newspapers that Maharashtra ATS has recovered the bike used by the killers in Gauri’s murder. I have not received any such information from the Maharashtra ATS,” Mr Singh said.

The Maharashtra ATS had recovered three bikes during the investigation of an arms case in Nalasopara in Mumbai and Pune. One of the bikes was recovered from Sharad Kalaskar, who was arrested in August in connection with the Nalasopara arms case and now a key accused in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case.

One Vasudev Suryavamshi alias Mechanic reportedly provided the stolen bike to Kalaskar and Kalaskar gave it to Amol Kale, the alleged mastermind in the Gauri case. Kale then said to have handed over the bike to Miskin and Waghmore to execute the task. The Maharashtra ATS is trying to trace the original owner of the bike. The papers and documents were faked and so were the number plates. The Karnataka SIT sources told  IndiaScoops.com the Maha ATS has been reluctant to share information immediately and give stupid excuses for failure or inordinate delay in sharing information. 

Meanwhile, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh has now taken the custody of Shrikant Pangarkar (40), a former corporator of Jalna in Maharashtra (Shiv Sena), from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS).

Journalist Nikhil Wagle was No 2 on the hit list of Maha Terror Suspects

According to reliable sources in the Maharashtra Police ATS investigating the terror plots, wherein several people from Mumbai, Pune and Satara have been arrested including a former Shiv Sena corporator from Jalna Shrikant Pangarkar and a huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosives were seized, the accused had made a list of 10-12 persons from Maharashtra who were according to them ‘anti-Hindu’ and had to be killed or eliminated.

Also Read: Terror Suspects Planned to Bomb Mahim Dargah, Bandra Fair at Mount Mary’s Church and Pune Sunburn Festival

Senior journalist Nikhil Wagle, former editor of Aapla Mahanagar, IBN-Lokmat and Maharashtra 1, was No 2 on the hit list of the terror suspects.

According to a Hindustan Times article that reported the court proceedings before the special court the ATS also claimed that the five accused were involved in throwing petrol bombs outside cinema halls in Kalyan (a city in Thane district, 50 km north-east of Mumbai), and Belagavi (earlier known as Belgaum) in Karnataka for screening the Hindi movie ‘Padmaavat’.

Also Read: Shiv Sena leaders including Uddhav Thackeray were fully aware of Shrikant Pangarkar’s terror links, ‘explosions’, ‘bomb blasts’ plot?

ATS further claimed that the accused planned to attack individuals who they thought were propagating or engaging in activity that was “against the Hindu religion”, the Hindustan Times reported.

The names of the individuals were not divulged in court as media persons were present, the ATS lawyer told the court.

Also Read: Shrikant Pangarkar assembled bombs, funded purchase of explosives and boasted of ‘explosions’ and ‘bomb blasts’ to MoS Arjun Khotkar

Atulchandra Kulkarni, Maharashtra ATS chief, said he could not “confirm the names because it will pose a security threat to the individuals” Hindustan Times (HT) reported.

The individuals include an author-historian; a former Marathi newspaper editor and three Marathi authors and play-rights, ATS officials told HT on condition of anonymity.

Hindustan Times in its report did not name them because of the perceived security threat to the individuals.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners Raut, Gondhalekar and Kalaskar planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

The former Marathi newspaper editor is none other than the outspoken Nikhil Wagle.

The ATS officials also said they had recovered three motorcycles, including one from Nalla Sopara and two from Pune, and claimed one of three bikes, allegedly owned by Kalaskar, may have been used in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru in September 2017.

Also Read: 150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested hardliners

In their raids, ATS officials claimed to have recovered 10 pistols, one air pistol, one country-made revolver, 10 pistol barrels, six pistol bodies, six magazines, three handmade magazines, one half-prepared country-made revolver, and seven hand-made pistols from Gondhalekar.

Also Read: Ex-Sanatan Sanstha seeker alleges “members hypnotized, made into killing machines and human bombs ready for mass murder or genocide”

Sunil Gonsalves, the public prosecutor appearing for ATS, told the court that the weapons used by the accused had been dismantled and were thrown away at different places to avoid detection, and that they needed to be recovered. He didn’t elaborate.

with inputs from Hindustan Times

BJP-led Maha Govt Protected and Shielded Right-Wing Murder-Accused for Four Years, Gauri Lankesh Probe by Karnataka SIT Forced Mah Govt to make Arrests

By Rajesh Singh | 25 August, 2018:  The Maharashtra Congress today alleged that the Devendra Fadnavis BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra had protected and shielded the killers of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and others for the last four years, in spite of having complete knowledge of the criminal activities of the hardliners who are indirectly part of the government.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners had planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

It was only after the Karnataka police Special Investigation Team (SIT) arrested about 13 persons who spat out the names of their associates in Maharashtra, and the press began reporting on the Maharashtra link to the killers, that the government developed cold feet.

It was just a matter of time, before the names of the accused hiding in Maharashtra would be revealed publicly in the media.

Also Read: Ex-Sanatan Sanstha seeker alleges “members hypnotized, made into killing machines and human bombs ready for mass murder or genocide”

The text of the remand and bail applications, as well as the confessional statements of the accused began appearing in the media, which forced the government to act and ordered the Maha ATS to make arrests immediately.

The Karnataka SIT had proof in terms of money trails and bank statements of several payments or transfers made by RTGS and IMPS from people in Maharashtra who had financially supported Gauri Lankesh’s killers in Karnataka.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

The government was worried that the role of  others in Maharashtra like Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar and Shrikant Pangarkar would be exposed during court proceedings in the Gauri Lankesh case and the role of the Maha government in shielding the accused and not making arrests, in spite of having information from the Karnataka police would come out in the open.

The credibility and very existence of the Maharashtra government was at stake, said a Congress leader from Mumbai. The Devendra Fadnavis government then consulted Delhi, including the PMO and the Home Ministry, which gave them the go-ahead to arrest all the accused in Maharashtra whose names had cropped up in the Gauri Lankesh investigation.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

This would serve a dual purpose. While the field operators like Raut and Kalaskar would be arrested, the masterminds and their political masters or bosses could still be protected. The arrest of the small fry would save the big bosses from arrest.

A top Karnataka police official told IndiaScoops.com,  the SIT had information that the weapon used to kill Gauri Lankesh was given to Gondhalekar who personally collected the weapon after the murder and took it for safe-keeping in Maharashtra. Forensic reports had matched the weapons, proving that only two weapons were used in all the murders.

Also Read: Shoot her in the head as it was done in Kalburgi murder, Gauri Lankesh killer taught during training

The Karnataka SIT knew that country-made pistols were being manufactured in Maharashtra and a huge cache of arms and explosives was being readied for subversive activities during the coming festivals.

Sources told IndiaScoops.com, that the Karnataka SIT had asked for permission from the Maharashtra DGP and the Maharashtra govt home department to raid Vaibhav RautSharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar and arrest them to recover the weapons used in the Gauri Lankesh murder.

The Karnataka SIT was all set to enter Maharashtra and arrest Kalaskar and Gondhalekar. The Maharashtra government had to do something and it did act in the nick of time to save it’s own skin.

Also Read:  With nearly 16-18 bomb blasts across the State, Sharad Kalaskar’s group plotted to rain terror and chaos in Maharashtra during Eid and Ganpati festivals

The SIT was sure the weapon was with Gondhalekar or one of his associates hidden somewhere in Maharashtra.

In the light of all this, if the Karnataka SIT had to effect the arrests of Vaibhav RautSharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, it would have been a big slap on the face of the Maha government and its role in protecting the killers would be completely exposed. 

The Bombay High Court was also breathing down the neck of the CBI and the Maharashtra CID. It had openly praised the Karnataka SIT, while chastising the Maharashtra police and instructed the agencies to take inputs from their colleagues across the border.

Also Read: Dabholkar, Pansare, Kulbargi and Lakesh murders inter-linked: Same group of killers involved in murders

The accused in the custody of the Karnataka SIT were singing like canaries and they had revealed the names of all the co-conspirators from Maharashtra. A diary found in the possession of the main accused Amol Kale listed the names of the accused as well as those on the hit-list of the killers.

Karnataka SIT sources told IndiaScoops.com, they were about to move court for search and arrest warrants against the accused hiding in Maharashtra. Had a Karnataka court to grant the SIT the search and arrest warrants, the Maharashtra government would have to run for cover.

Further, the Devendra Fadnavis government was also worried if   Vaibhav RautSharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, Sachin Andhure and Shrikant Pangarkar were to land up first in the SIT custody, more skeletons would tumble out of the closets as the SIT was going hammer and tongs with the investigation.

More big names – including those of some top politicians in other States would be revealed – this was the other major problem for the Maha CM. The only way to prevent this was to first arrest them and lock them up with the Maharashtra ATS where they could be debriefed, conditioned and tutored before the Karnataka SIT got hold of them.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh killers planned to kill actor Prakash Raj, a Goan Congress leader and a Mumbai-based journalist

By doing so, Devendra Fadnavis would be seen as a strict disciplinarian, unwilling to tolerate terror activity of any hue or color.

“The government was aware of what was happening,” said a senior Congress leader, adding that a former Shiv Sena corporator from Jalna, Shrikant Pangarkar has been arrested by the ATS and the CBI for the murder of Dr Dabholkar and according to media reports several senior Shiv Sena leaders were aware of Pangarkar’s activities as well as his plans to carry out several bomb blasts in Maharashtra.

The Congress leader claimed that Pangarkar had bragged of his ‘explosions’ and ‘bomb blasts’ activity to each and every Sena leader he met over the last 2-3 months. Why didn’t the government act against him earlier, he asked?

Also Read: Shrikant Pangarkar assembled bombs, funded purchase of explosives and boasted of ‘explosions’ and ‘bomb blasts’ to MoS Arjun Khotkar

According to a July 2018 report in Mid-day, the Congress alleged that the BJP-led Maharashtra government was shying away from taking serious action against the Sanatan Sanstha because “supporters” of the right wing outfit are part of the ruling dispensation.

Also Read: Shiv Sena leaders including Uddhav Thackeray were fully aware of Shrikant Pangarkar’s terror links, ‘explosions’, ‘bomb blasts’ plot?

Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil also said that the style of functioning of the Sanstha can be equated with international terrorist organisation, the Al Qaida.

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded a ban on Sanatan Sanstha and alleged that the State government is safeguarding the mastermind in the murder case.