Bengaluru, Sept 29, 2018 : In a surprise twist in the Gauri Lankesh case, a suspect has alleged that the Karnataka police offered him Rs. 25 lakh to confess that he had gunned down the activist-journalist last year. Another suspect claimed that he was forced to accept the charges under a threat to his family.
"The Special Investigation Team (SIT) offered us Rs. 25 lakh to accept the crime," said Parashuram Waghmare, one of the alleged shooters, while being taken to court. The second suspect, Manohar Edave, also denied any involvement in the case. "They threatened to implicate my family and friends unless I confessed to the murder," he said.
A top SIT officer refused to comment on the suspect’s claim of being offered the bribe. Mr Waghmare and Mr Edave are among 12 people arrested in connection with the crime until now.
Ms Lankesh, a strong critic of right-wing Hindu extremism, was shot dead by unknown people outside her residence in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwari Nagar on September 5, 2017. Besides serving as an editor in Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly launched by her father, she used to head her own publication titled Gauri Lankesh Patrike.
Last month, the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra police had arrested three members of a suspected right-wing Hindutva outfit and seized a huge cache of weapons and explosives. One of them, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, reportedly confessed to his role in the murder of Ms Lankesh as well as rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi.
"The probe so far indicates that those arrested in connection with the seizure of huge cache of explosives from Nallasopara in Palghar district have direct links with the killings of Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh," an official had said back then. The Central Bureau of Investigation also agreed that some of the accused arrested in the Lankesh case were involved in Mr Dabholkar’s murder.
Two weeks ago, police claimed to have found a motorcycle used in Ms Lankesh’s murder. The vehicle was traced on the basis of CCTV footage that showed one of the suspects in a white shirt and dark trousers riding what appeared to be a Bajaj Pulsar.