05, Sep 2019 | Teesta Setalvad
Today, Thursday, September 5, marks the second anniversary of the fateful night when bike-borne assailants killed journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh outside her home in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar, Bengaluru. Two years on, the investigation has reached a crucial stage with special public prosecutor, S Balan describing the investigation by the SIT as “meticulous.”
In an exclusive telephonic interview to CJP, Balan said, “The Karnataka SIT has left no stone unturned to ensure that the guilty are brought to book.”
The entire interview may be heard here:
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“The real challenge is for the state government to constitute a Special Court that can hear the four connected matters from day to day so that the entire trial(s) can be concluded from six months to a year.” The SIT is investigating the Gauri Lankesh murder, the MM Kalburgi killing, the attempt on public intellectual, Bhagwan among others. The same set of accused and organisation are behind these killings and attempts to kill.
Ever since the SIT filed a 9,325-page charge sheet in November 2018, a defence team has been trying to dismantle the allegations made by the investigating team. The culprits were nabbed with a mix of traditional policing that involved a core team of around 80 people and using advanced technology like Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, GATE analysis and DNA profiling among other scientific methods to ensure that the criminals are punished.
“From the logistics behind the crime, to collection and recovery of every piece of evidence, the SIT investigation has left no loophole. The prosecution, argued for framing of charges under section 226 of the CRPC, at which stage the defence filed an application for discharge of the accused,” said Balan to CJP. “After two days of arguments of largely irrelevant materials, at the last hearing they concluded their arguments in five minutes. The case has now been posted for September 18, 2019 for the prosecution (us) to reply to their arguments.
It was on November 23, 2018, that the Karnataka SIT investigating the case filed a charge sheet running into over 9000 pages! The charge sheet lays out that that the journalist’s murder was planned over a period of five long years! This charge sheet was also significant because it categorically named Sanatan Sanstha as the chief perpetrator in the case. There are 18 people were named in the charge sheet. These include shooter Parashuram Waghmare, masterminds Amol Kale, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen and Amit Digwekar.
“There are several precedents for these related cases to be appointed to a Special Court,” says Balan. “This would ensure that the case proceeds with speed and efficiency since otherwise this is a busy court hearing other matters too,” he added. There are many occasions in such matters of public importance that the state government actually constitutes such courts,” the special PP added. At present, the case is being tried at the Karnataka Control of Organised Crime (KCOCA), an already overworked Principal Sessions Court
Gauri Lankesh, the editor of the Kannada weekly, Gauri Lankesh Patrike, was shot down by two assailants, part of an alleged larger conspiracy to take out anti-Hindutva voices, outside her home in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar on 5 September, 2017. It was the fourth among such similar assassinations that shook the collective conscience of the country.
Narendra Dabholkar (Maharashtra, 2013), Govind Pansare (Maharashtra, 2015), MM Kalburgi (Karnataka, 2015) and Gauri Lankesh (Karnataka, 2017).
A detailed report on the investigations may be read here: