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Gauri Lankesh killing: SIT names Hindutva outfit in additional chargesheet, says it was a 5-year plot

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Bengaluru | The special investigation team (SIT) probing the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh has named an organised criminal syndicate inspired by the Sanatan Sanstha in its additional chargesheet filed before a court here.

In the 9,235-page chargesheet submitted before the Principal Civil and Sessions Court here Friday evening, it was also stated that the killing of Lankesh was plotted for almost five years.

A network, inspired by the literature of the Goa-based Sanatan Sanstha, had targeted Lankesh, it said.

“Sanatan Sanstha members were involved. We have named them. We have also mentioned one of its allied organisations,” a top officer in the SIT told PTI here Saturday.

However, the SIT in a press release stated, “The investigation so far has revealed that all the 18 accused were active members of an organised crime syndicate. This syndicate was formed in 2010-11 under the leadership of Dr Virendra Tawade alias Bade Bhai Sahab. One former editor of the Sanatan Prabhat provided the financial support to this syndicate.

“The members of this organisation targeted persons who they identified to be inimical to their ideology and belief. The members strictly followed the guidelines and principles mentioned in the ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’, a book published by the Sanatan Sanstha.”

Reacting to the chargesheet, the Sanatan Sanstha dismissed its alleged links with the killing of Lankesh, saying none of the accused was its members.

“None of the accused is a member of the Sanatan Sanstha. So far, the SIT has not said this officially. If it has mentioned our name in the supplementary chargesheet, we will fight it legally. So far, we have not got the copy (of the chargesheet),” Chetan Rajhans, the outfit’s head of communications, told PTI over phone.

“…other than this, if any organisation indulges in maligning the name of the organisation without proof, it will face legal consequences,” he said.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, who holds the Home portfolio, said the government would soon take a call on banning organisations involved in the killing of Lankesh.

“No discussion has taken place regarding the organisations involved in the case, but we will take a decision on that shortly,” he told reporters.

The Congress leader also refused to divulge information about the progress made in the investigation.

“The killer and the killed had no personal or any other enmity. Why was she killed? Because she believed in a certain ideology and wrote and spoke about that. So, it must be an ideology and it must be an organisation,” Special Public Prosecutor S Balan told PTI.

The SIT has also sought permission to investigate the case further.

The first chargesheet in the sensational case was filed in May, eight months after 55-year-old Lankesh, known for her left-leaning and strong anti-Hindutva views, was shot dead in front of her house here on September 5 last year.

As the killing triggered a national outrage and widespread condemnation, the then Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government had constituted the SIT to probe it.

So far, 18 people have been named as accused in the case, including shooter Parashuram Waghmare and alleged masterminds Amol Kale, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen and Amit Degwekar, SIT sources said.

The gang also allegedly had links with the killings of three other rationalists — M M Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare — they added.

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