Gauri murder accused wanted to kill Bhagwan before poll

Gauri murder accused wanted to kill Bhagwan before poll

Representative photo

The accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case planned to assassinate Kannada writer K S Bhagwan three months after her slaying or before the Assembly polls, it has emerged.

The team, however, shelved the idea after accused K T Naveen Kumar’s arrest.

SIT sources said all the accused in the Gauri Lankesh case conspired to kill Bhagwan and had started a recce at his house. Naveen bought an air gun and gave it to his associate Anil Kumar for shooting practice.

Since Naveen is from Maddur, which was their rendezvous point, Praveen asked him to collect the route map and CCTV camera information.

Sources also pointed out that Naveen spoke to Praveen and others from coin booths and exchanged the date and time of their meeting. Details were discussed during face-to-face meetings.

SIT officials nabbed the accused by getting hold of Naveen’s call data records from the coin-booths he used. Naveen received calls from Vijaypura, Belagavi and districts bordering Maharashtra.

Despite knowing Naveen’s role in Gauri’s murder, SIT officials did not show him as an arrested in the case. Instead, said a senior official, they grabbed him in an illegal firearms case to get the leads on the other accused.

CCTV footage of the recce by the accused before murdering Gauri provided the major clue in the case. In all, the SIT nabbed six people — Parashuram Waghmore from Sindhagi in Vijayapura; K T Naveen Kumar from Maddur; Amol Kale alias Bhaisab from Maharashtra; Manohar Edave from Vijayapura; Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen from Shikaripura; and Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep from Goa.

SIT officials have also summoned Waghmore’s family after he was arrested on Monday from Sindhagi. They have also detained his friend Sunil Agasara, but are yet to name him as an accused in the case.

Several of Waghmore’s supporters posted social media messages praising him and kept his photograph as a profile picture. On Tuesday, Sri Rama Sene’s founder president Pramod Muthalik clarified that Waghmore was not a part of his outfit and he did not know him personally.

Facebook message

But Sene’s state secretary Neelakanta Kandagalla posted a message on Facebook with Waghmore’s picture, saying: “My life is dedicated to protect my motherland. He (Waghmore) is the protector of Hindu religion. He’s even prepared to die for his motherland.”

“He has been a great protector of motherhood and religion. He always thought about protecting the country,” his post stated.

Kandagalla told the media that he knew Waghmore for the past five years. “It’s my personal post. I know him personally and so put out the post,” he said.

SIT officials are doing a behavioural analysis of Waghmore and are comparing it with the 48-second CCTV footage obtained near Gauri’s residence.

They said Waghmore has striking similarities with the man who pulled the trigger and asserted that he was arrested after a detail observation and are tracing his movement before and after Gauri’s murder. Sources said Naveen helped Waghmore get shelter in the city to execute the plan.

Photo doing the rounds on social media

Meanwhile, a picture of Sri Rama Sene founder president Pramod Muthalik and suspect Parashuram Waghmore is being widely circulated on social media.

The photograph was reportedly taken before Waghmore was arrested in connection with the hoisting of a Pakistani flag in front of the tahsildar’s office at Sindagi (to bring disrepute to Muslims) on January 1.

Muthalik responded by saying that hundreds of people take photographs with him and he cannot remember a photograph that was taken six years ago.

Accused Naveen Kumar bail plea today

Naveen Kumar, the first accused to be arrested in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, filed a bail petition before the City Civil and Sessions Court, arguing that he could not destroy evidence or influence witnesses if allowed free since the SIT had already filed a charge sheet against him. The court is likely to hear his bail plea on Thursday.