Police arrest hard-line Hindu activist for journalist Gauri Lankesh's murder

Glen Norman
March 11, 2018

Kumar, who hails from Birur town in Chikkamagaluru district, was arrested on February 18 by the SIT of Karnataka Police after he was identified with the help of CCTV footage.

The SIT officials submitted documents in a closed envelope to the court on conspiracy charges against Kumar with an arms case and sought to extend his custody as they have to take him to several places as part of the investigation.

The police officer said Kumar has been apprehended on Friday on suspicion of providing weapons used to kill Lankesh.

A gunrunner arrested for possession of an illegal firearm has been made the first accused in the murder case of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh. "Naveen Kumar had full knowledge of the team's plan to kill Gauri Lankesh", the SIT source said.

Bengaluru Magistrate Court on Friday sent KT Naveen Kumar to 5 days of SIT custody.

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 previous year.

The killing of the journalist had drawn widespread condemnation and the Siddaramaiah government had come under flak for not making any headway in nabbing the culprits. They said Naveen had been to Goa to attend a conference organised by Sanatan Sanstha. The locals in the area are reported to have said that they have heard of Naveen and his organisation, but it was no different from other Hindu fringe groups that has sprung up over the last few years. The radical outfit has been linked in Maharashtra in the murder case of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.

The Karnataka government later formed a 21-member SIT, led by Inspector General of Police B K Singh, to investigate the case. It was at this time that the prosecutor handed over a sealed envelope to the court and elaborated that Naveen had been officially arrested by the SIT in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.

Kumar's family has maintained that he was innocent and in no way connected to the case.

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