Bengaluru: The ongoing probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Karnataka police into the murder of journalist and social activist Gauri Lankesh has unearthed another link to the extremist Hindutva Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Mohan Gowda, Bengaluru-based coordinator of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) put K T Naveen Kumar, key accused in the case, in touch with the Sanstha unit during the planning phase of Gauri Lankesh murder.
K T Naveen Kumar, an activist of the Hindu Yuva Sena and resident of Maddur was arrested on March 2, 2018 for allegedly providing logistical support to a group that came from outside Karnataka to shoot Gauri Lankesh at her Bengaluru home on September 5, 2017. Four of Naveen Kumar’s associates were taken into custody last week for the murder of the journalist and plotting to kill Kannada writer K S Bhagwan.
According to the report, based on a voluntary statement by Naveen Kumar, Gowda allegedly connected him in 2017 to Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, a 37-year-old Udupi resident, who was part of this unit and was arrested on May 31.
When The Indian Express contacted Mohan Gowda, he said: “It is a police conspiracy. We will hold a press conference soon on behalf of the HJS to speak on these issues.”
The others arrested are Amol Kale alias Bhaisab (39) an activist of the HJS from Maharashtra, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep (39) a Sanatan Sanstha activist and resident of Goa and Manohar Edave (28) a resident of Vijayapura in Karnataka.
In his statement, Naveen Kumar made a reference to an annual convention of the Sanstha he attended in Goa’s Ponda in June 2017 where he expressed his personal views that the use if weapons and arms is necessary to protect the Hindu dharma.
“On the second day, there was a discussion on the protection of the Hindu dharma… 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. Mohan Gowda praised me a lot. 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,” Naveen Kumar claims.
The police chargesheet had earlier revealed the accused had killed journalist and social activist Gauri Lankesh because they “were angry with her for speaking against Hindu dharma, Gods of Hindu dharma and insulting Hindu dharma.”
As per the written statement, a few days after the convention, he received a phone call seeking a meeting from a man who identified himself as “Praveen” — the call was from a public booth. “He told me that my phone number had been provided by Mohan Gowda from Bengaluru,’’ claims the statement.
“I called up Mohan Gowda and asked him about the call… He (Mohan Gowda) told me the caller was part of his organisation and a person with my mindset. He told me to carry on working with the caller,’’ Naveen Kumar claims.
After a few days, caller Praveen, as per the statement, visited Naveen Kumar and and his wife soon after and collected some bullets that were in his possession to verify whether “they could be useful’’. Soon after, he told Naveen Kumar that he needed assistance to kill Gauri Lankesh.
On August 19 and 20, 2017, the statement claims, the HJS organised an event in Bengaluru, which was attended by the man identified as Praveen. On the last day of the event, Praveen took Naveen Kumar to a park near the venue in the Vijayanagar area of Bengaluru and told him that he needed assistance to kill Gauri Lankesh, claims the statement, reports The Indian Express.
“He told me Gauri Lankesh had been speaking in an insulting manner about Hindus and Hindu Gods, and that they had decided to kill her,’’ Naveen Kumar claims adding that he subsequently travelled to a Sanstha ashram in Mangalore on the invitation of a local HJS leader on September 5, 2017, and learnt the next day from TV reports that Gauri Lankesh had been killed.