Gauri Lankesh Murder: Mega manhunt- the untold story

Gauri Lankesh Murder: Mega manhunt- the untold story

Protests erupted across the country following the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Nine months after the shooting of journalist Gauri Lankesh, the police are reporting a major breakthrough with the arrest of Purushottam Waghmore last week.

On September 5, 2017, activist and journalist Gauri was shot dead a little after 8 pm as she was about to enter her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar. Three assailants, who had followed her from her office in Gandhi Bazar, called out to her. When she turned to look, they pumped bullets into her from point-blank range.

The killing seemed part of a series of assassinations: Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and CPI leader Govind Pansare had similarly been killed. In Bengaluru, Gauri’s murder triggered the biggest manhunt in recent history. A Special Investigation Team was formed with Inspector General Of Police (Intelligence) B K Singh heading it and DCP (West) M N Anucheth being named the investigation officer.

Many motives were suggested, but eventually the investigation pointed to the involvement of radical Hindu groups. A team of 40 officials was assigned initially for the investigation. It later grew to 79 officials.

2,400 video recorders

The SIT collected CCTV camera footage from four cameras at Gauri’s house, of which two cameras facing the gate had filmed the murder. It then tracked her drive home by collecting footage from 2,400 DVRs (digital video recorders) between Gauri’s office in Gandhi Bazar and house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar.

1.5 lakh bikes checked

Police checked details of thousands of Bajaj Pulsar bikes, finding out who owned them and where the vehicles were at the time of the crime.

Eye on 1.5 crore calls

The sleuths tracked call records of many leaders associated with radical Hindu organisations. In fact, the scale was massive: they kept an eye on 1.5 crore calls.

Sketch match

About 75 per cent of the sketch drawn of Parshuram Waghmore matches his profile, police say.

How it panned out

When investigators checked extensive footage, they found a suspect presence in the vicinity of Gauri’s house. The footage wasn’t clear and police sought technical help to figure out who he was.

 The tracking of calls led to police hearing K T Naveen Kumar, leader of Hindu Yuva Sene, talking to someone in Anekal. Naveen reportedly said Naveen had gone underground because of the Gauri case. Sujeeth Kumar alias Praveen, connected to Naveen, was soon arrested. Amol Kale, Amit Degwekar and Manohar Edave were among those police subsequently netted.

Danger averted

The arrest of Naveen Kumar and Sujeeth busted a conspiracy to kill Kannada writer K S Bhagwan, according to investigators.

4 murders in a series?

If this case is solved, then the murder cases related to three others -- M M Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, and Narendra Dabholkar--may be solved.

Kavitha happy netas have remained away from probe

 Film director and Gauri’s younger sister Kavitha Lankesh says the investigation has progressed well because politicians haven’t interfered in it. The government put a huge team on the job, and that helped, she told Metrolife. In her words: It was a well-planned murder and a difficult case. Despite this, the team has moved ahead unlike in the case of M M  Kalburgi.

 The police have arrested the man who pulled the trigger but are yet to find out his motive and who is behind him. I have been interacting with police officials and following up with them meticulously. They update me but I guess they are telling me only 60 per cent and not everything. The team should keep pursuing whoever is behind this. Any group that does such atrocious things in the name of ‘dharma’ should be banned. How would it be different from any other terrorist otherwise?

Sanstha denied links

Like in the Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar assassination cases, Sanatan Sanstha has been under a shadow in the Gauri case as well. Its national spokesperson Chetan Rajhans has denied any involvement and promised to cooperate with the SIT.

Who was Gauri?

Gauri Lankesh was a journalist-turned-activist. She brought out the weekly ‘Gauri Lankesh Patrike’ and was daughter of well-known writer and journalist P Lankesh.