Bengaluru: Gauri murder - Probe reveals involvement of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti leader

Daijiworld Media Network - Bengaluru

Bengaluru, Jun 11: A probe by special investigation team (SIT) of Karnataka police has established a strong link of the involvement of Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in Gauri Lankesh’s murder.

An office-bearer of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) identified as Mohan Gowda played a key role in helping K T Naveen Kumar get in touch with the Sanatan Sanstha during the planning phase of the murder.

Naveen Kumar, the key accused in the murder was arrested on March 2 this year for providing ammunition to a group that came from outside Karnataka to shoot Gauri Lankesh.

According to a report by the Indian Express, Naveen Kumar in a 'signed voluntary statement' alleged that Mohan Gowda, the Bengaluru-based coordinator of the HJS connected him in 2017 to Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, a 37-year-old Udupi resident, who was part of this unit and was arrested on May 31.

Kumar makes a reference of attending an annual convention of the Sanstha in Goa’s Ponda in June 2017. He says his views of using weapons and arms to protect the Hindu dharma had impressed many of the attendees. One of them was Mohan Gowda, who praised him and while conversing with him, Naveen Kumar said he can procure guns and bullets. It was here Mohan told that Kumar would be contacted by like-minded people shortly.

As per the written statement, a few days after the convention, Kumar received a phone call seeking a meeting from a man who identified himself as 'Praveen' - the call was from a public booth. "He told me that my phone number had been provided by Mohan Gowda from Bengaluru," he claims in the statement.

"I called up Mohan Gowda and asked him about the call… He (Mohan Gowda) told me the caller was part of his organisation and a person with my mindset. He told me to carry on working with the caller," Naveen Kumar claims.

A few days later, Praveen visited Naveen Kumar and his wife and collected some bullets that were in his possession to verify whether “they could be useful’’.

On August 19 and 20, 2017, the statement claims, the HJS organised an event in Bengaluru, which was attended by the man identified as Praveen. On the last day of the event, Praveen took Naveen Kumar to a park near the venue in the Vijayanagar area of Bengaluru and told him that he needed assistance to kill Gauri Lankesh, claims the statement, reports The Indian Express.

"He told me Gauri Lankesh had been speaking in an insulting manner about Hindus and Hindu Gods, and that they had decided to kill her," Naveen Kumar claims adding that he subsequently travelled to a Sanstha ashram in Mangaluru on the invitation of a local HJS leader on September 5, 2017, and learnt the next day from TV reports that Gauri Lankesh had been killed.

On May 31, the SIT also arrested Amol Kale, 37, from Pune; Amit Degwekar, 38 from Ponda; and Manohar Edave, 29, from Vijayapura, in connection with the Lankesh case.


Mohan Gowda says it's 'police conspiracy'

The Indian Express contacted Mohan Gowda for his statement. "It is a police conspiracy. We will hold a press conference soon on behalf of the HJS to speak on these issues," he said.

In an earlier interview with the Indian Express, Mohan Gowda acknowledged that Naveen Kumar was associated with the HJS. "He is known to us. He attended our adiveshan in Goa last year on our invitation. He has attended dharma sabhas in Bengaluru and a programme on Bhagat Singh. He was also part of a programme held in his own hometown Maddur," Gowda had said.