The charge sheet in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, a copy of which is with The Hindu , says the journalist and activist was killed for her ‘anti-Hindu views’.
“The accused were angry with her for speaking against Hindu dharma, Gods of Hindu dharma and insulting Hindu dharma,” said the Special Investigation Team in the 651-page charge sheet against K.T. Naveen Kumar, the first accused in the case.
However, the confession statements of Naveen Kumar and statements of his three friends from Maddur, made before a magistrate, have not been made public. According to sources, this was done on request by the SIT for fear that the publication of the statements would tip off other accused who are still at large.
‘On Dasara, he offered pooja to the pistol’
Though the charge sheet is silent on the organisational affiliations of Naveen Kumar, his wife Roopa C. N., a Group D employee with KPTCL in Birur, in her statement to the SIT, said he was associated with the ‘Sanatan Dharma Sanstha’ mostly in 2017.
In her statement, Ms. Roopa said that her husband took her for a programme in Shivamogga in 2017 where he introduced her to people from Sanatan Dharma Sanstha. He had procured a pistol and a few bullets, about three months before Dasara. When she complained, he said they were ‘dummy’ bullets to scare away monkeys.
“On Dasara festival, he offered pooja to the pistol,” her statement read.
Ms. Roopa recalled Naveen Kumar inviting a person from Sanatan Dharma to their house after Dasara. He stayed overnight.
She claimed that her husband said he was one of 400 Hindu activists selected for a Dharma Shikshana Sammelana in Goa, which he attended. Two months later, he attended a similar programme in Hubballi.
At one point, he booked an appointment for her at Sanatan Ashram in Mangaluru. The day after they reached the ashram, she saw on TV that Gauri Lankesh had been murdered.
Forensic reports on websites
The charge sheet includes a forensic report of websites sanatan.org and hindujagruti.org. It notes that sanatan.org carried a report of a meeting purportedly held in Maddur on December 10, 2017. Police sources said that Naveen Kumar had attended this meeting.
However, the charge sheet does not name Sanatan Sanstha. “There is no evidence so far to indicate that the organisation itself as a whole was involved in the conspiracy,” a senior police officer said.
Bullets procured from Kalasipalya
The charge sheet accuses Naveen Kumar of supplying the bullets that were used to kill Gauri Lankesh in September 2017. It alleges they were from Bangalore Armoury, an ammunition store on N.R. Road. They were procured by Naveen Kumar about eight years ago.
Syed Shabbeer, 30, working in another ammunition store City Gun House in Kalasipalya, claimed to have sold 18 bullets to Naveen Kumar for ₹3,000. “About eight years ago, Naveen Kumar came to our shop and bought two air guns in a week for ₹3,500 each. He asked me to sell a pistol and bullets, though he did not have a licence. When I refused, he pleaded with me to sell at least the bullets, which he said he would only use to make a locket around his neck. I was in need of money. So, I asked my friend Amjad, working at Bangalore Armoury, to give me some testing wastage bullets. Three days later, Amjad gave me 18 bullets of 0.32 calibre wrapped in paper. I sold them to Naveen Kumar for ₹3,000,” Syed Shabbeer has told the SIT.