Gauri Lankesh murder: Local gun runner KT Naveen Kumar named as an accused
Bengaluru: A Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe the 5 September 2017 murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, on Friday listed K.T.Naveen Kumar as an accused in the case.
According to the police, Kumar was arrested by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) for possession of illegal arms on 18 February and was later taken for questioning by the SIT on 3 March.
On Friday, Kumar was produced before the magistrate to extend his custody and also presented as an accused.
“He (Kumar) has been arrested and is an accused. But not accused No 1. That number is given at the time of chargesheet,” a senior SIT official said, requesting not to be named.
Kumar’s arrest is seen as the first major breakthrough by the SIT which has so far been unable to make any substantial progress in a case that made national and international headlines.
Kumar secured bail in the illegal arms case on Friday but will remain in the custody of the SIT which is probing his alleged role in the Lankesh murder case, according to Veda Murthy, the defense counsel in the case.
Lankesh, a progressive activist and editor of Kannada tabloid Gauri Lankesh Patrike, was shot down by unknown assailants outside her home in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar on 5 September last year.
Defence lawyers said Kumar, who was taken in only for questioning by the SIT, has been made an accused without any evidence. A request for brain mapping Kumar in the Lankesh murder case by the prosecution has been reserved as the accused has denied his assent for this.
The defence advocates said Kumar was being questioned for possession of live ammunition and his alleged role in hatching a plot to kill rationalist thinker K.S.Bhagwan.
With assembly elections round the corner, the Siddaramaiah led Congress government has come under tremendous pressure to show some progress in the case. The brazen attack on Lankesh was likened to the assassinations of rationalist thinkers-activists Narendra Dabholkar on 20 August 2013 in Pune, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Govind Pansare on 16 February 2015 in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, and M.M. Kalburgi on 30 August 2015 in Dharwad, Karnataka.
The lack of progress in the Kalburgi and Lankesh cases has given the political opposition enough ammunition to attack Siddaramaiah over failing law and order in the state.
Kumar’s police custody has been extended until 13 March while the next hearing in the case will be on Tuesday (12 March).
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