New Delhi: Senior journalist Gauri Lankesh and rationalist M M Kalburgi were killed using the same 7.65 mm country gun, the Indian Express quoted a forensic report as saying on Friday.
The report, which was attached to the chargesheet filed by a Karnataka Police Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Lankesh murder case, was placed before the court of the third additional chief metropolitan magistrate in Bengaluru on May 30. This is the first official indication by any government agency that link the 2015 and 2017 murders.
The newspaper, quoting police sources, said that the finding suggests a common group of assassins shot both persons dead. Kalburgi (77) was killed on August 30, 2015, in Dharwad and Lankesh (55) on September 5, 2017, in Bengaluru.
IE had first reported on September 14, 2017, that preliminary forensic analysis of bullets and cartridges found at the site of the shooting of Lankesh and those recovered from the killing of Kalburgi revealed that the same pistol was used.
The forensic report enclosed in the chargesheet filed against K T Naveen Kumar, one of five persons accused in the Lankesh case, states that the bullets and cartridges in both the murders “have been fired through a single country made pistol chambered for 7.65 mm caliber pistol cartridges”.
Following the murder of Lankesh, police recovered the three bullets that pierced her body, and a bullet that missed her, along with their four empty cartridges. These were compared with the two bullets and their cartridges from the Kalburgi murder.
“The bullets in article no 6, 18 and 19 (the Lankesh case) and the bullets in article no 2 and 3 concerned in Vidyagiri P S Cr No 142/15 vide FAS/150/15 (the Kalburgi case) have been fired through a single country made pistol chambered for 7.65 mm caliber pistol cartridges,” states the report.
The Karnataka SIT has arrested five persons affiliated to Hindutva groups — Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) — who are suspected to have carried out the murder.
In a chargesheet filed against the first person arrested, Naveen Kumar from Maddur in Karnataka, the SIT stated that Lankesh was killed for making statements against the Hindu religion and Gods. Kumar is affiliated to the Hindu Yuva Sena and attended several meetings of the Sanatan Sanstha in Karnataka and Goa.
Last week, the SIT arrested four more persons believed to have played central roles in the murder — Sujeet Kumar from Udupi, Amol Kale from Pune, Amit Degwekar from Ponda and Manohar Edave from Vijayapura.