The Karnataka government yesterday announced the formation of a 21-member SIT headed by IGP (Intelligence) B K Singh to probe the killing of activist-journalist, Gauri Lankesh, that has led to a wave of countrywide protests and condemnation across the political spectrum.
The Inspector-General of Police B.K Singh, who is heading the SIT, and Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) M.N. Anucheth, visited Gauri’s house at Rajarajeshwarinagar to take a look at the crime scene, and later visited her office at Gandhi Bazaar.
“SIT members have started their investigation into the Gauri Lankesh murder case and the state government is hopeful of nabbing the assailants as soon as possible,” Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said.
The team inspected the spot where Gauri parked her car and sought to zero in on the places from where the assailant would have shot her. “The assailant shot Gauri from within a distance of 10 feet,” an SIT member said.
According to Bengaluru police sources, Gauri was shot with a 7.65mm pistol.”One thing is for sure — it’s a pistol and not a revolver as thought earlier. If a revolver was used, there would be no cartridges left behind at the crime scene. Based on the size and shape of the bullets, we have concluded that a 7.65mm pistol was used to kill Gauri,” police sources said.
The sources, however, said they are yet to firmly establish if it was a country-made pistol. If it was a country-made pistol, the assailant must have been well-versed in handling it, they added.
“Usually, magazines of country-made pistols will not work quickly, particularly while pumping bullets in quick succession. The magazine gets jammed, requiring the weapon to be reloaded. Also, the pistol gets heated once the bullet is fired. In this case, the assailant used the weapon so confidently that he fired the bullets one after the other,” a senior police officer said, adding that the assailant could be a contract killer.
“But we have not been able to establish whether the shooter was alone or worked with others,” he said.
“The CCTV footage has captured the sequence in which the shooting happens but has provided little clues to the identity of the killer. The entire shooting gets over in eight seconds. The attacker is wearing a helmet and a dark jacket making it difficult to distinguish any features,’’ said police sources.
The CCTV footage has only been able to confirm that the killing was carried out by two men on a two-wheeler, who parked behind Gauri Lankesh’s car before the assailant stepped up and fired at her back as she opened the gate and later shot her twice in front when she ran to the house.
Investigators also collected call record details of Gauri’s mobile phone and two landline phones in her office and at home. “Between August 2016 and September 5, Gauri had received or dialled around 650 numbers that were not on her contact list. The team will filter all calls and sort names based on their relationship with her,” police said.
Gauri visited her sister Kavitha’s place on September 2 and talked about strangers loitering near her residence, her mother Indira revealed.”None of us, including Gauri, took it seriously. I’m not sure whether it were the same persons who killed her,” she said.
The family of Gauri Lankesh, Indrajit Lankesh and Kavitha Lankesh, came together on Thursday to demand a time-bound probe by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), failing which they would want the task be handed over to other investigation agencies.
Mr. Indrajit Lankesh said, “For now the family wants justice for the murder of our sister. Our intention is that no other rationalist-journalist-writer should face the kind of consequences she did for registering their dissent.”
Upon questioning about his earlier demand for a CBI probe, Mr. Indrajit Lankesh said, “My mother appealed to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to ensure justice for the sacrifice of Gauri, following which he constituted SIT. Let us see what happens in the SIT probe. The question is not about investigating agency, it is about getting justice for the heinous murder of a writer, journalist and activist, who is incidentally my sister Gauri,” he asserted.
Gauri Lankesh Patrike was formed in 2005 after Gauri and her brother, Indrajit, parted ways over the future of Lankesh Patrike, the tabloid they inherited from their father, after his death in 2000
The SIT officials have requested members of the public to share any information about the assailants or the crime on 9480800202 or email at email@example.com.