Bengaluru, Sep 05, 2018 : A year ago to the day, journalist Gauri Lankesh was entering her house in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwari Nagar after returning from work when she was shot and killed by three unidentified men.
A special investigating team (SIT) formed to inquire into the killing has since claimed to have completed its probe, arrested 12 suspects and unearthed a shadowy nameless organisation it has linked to the crime and the murder of three other individuals, all of who whom campaigned against superstition and espoused rationalism.
Lankesh, who was 55 and ran the eponymous Gauri Lankesh Patrike, was an outspoken critic of Hindu fundamentalism and known for upholding women’s rights. Interviews with SIT officers and documents submitted in court by the police reveal that the plot to kill her had been afoot for a year; the reason why she was targeted were the public comments she made that were perceived to be disrespectful of the Hindu religion, the officials say. It isn’t clear what evidence the investigators have and whether their claims will stand up in court. The lawyer of one of those arrested says there is no evidence.
Progress in the investigation was, at least initially, slow. To be sure, within the first month, detectives claimed that the bullets recovered from the scene matched those recovered from the murder scene of scholar MM Kalburgi, who was shot dead at his house in Karnataka’s Dharwad district on August 30, 2015.
Yet, initial attempts to piece together evidence from the scene of the crime, apart from the bullets, did not yield major breakthroughs. The crime was caught on a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera placed near the door to Lankesh’s house, but few clues surfaced from the footage. The man who shot Lankesh was wearing a helmet and couldn’t be identified.