SIT Makes Maiden Arrest In Journalist Gauri Lankesh Murder Case

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Bengaluru(PTI): Six months after the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, Karnataka police today arrested a man said to be linked with a right-wing radical group for his suspected involvement in the sensational killing.

The Special Investigation Team, probing the murder, said it arrested alleged gunrunner K T Naveen Kumar, who was taken into police custody on March 2 for interrogation in connection with the case.

This is the first arrest in the case after the 55-year old Lankesh, known as an anti-establishment voice with strident anti-right wing views, was shot dead at close range by unknown assailants at her home here on September 5 last year.

“He (Naveen Kumar) has been arrested. He is an accused (in the case),” Deputy Commissioner of Police M N Anucheth, the investigating officer in the case, told PTI here.

Replying to a question, the officer said that in the interest of protecting witnesses and further investigation, “we cannot reveal his role” at this juncture.

“The evidences collected so far confirm him as an accused in the case and we have thus arrested him,” he said.

Police said Kumar, in his 30s, was suspected to be linked with a fringe right-wing radical group.

Initially, he was arrested on February 19 on charges of illegally possessing five bullets.

A case under the Arms Act was then registered against him and he was remanded to judicial custody by a court.

Subsequently after interrogation, he was taken into eight-days custody by the SIT for suspected links in the Lankesh murder case.

Kumar was today produced before a court here which remanded him in police custody in the Lankesh case till March 13 for further interrogation.

The court, however, granted him bail in the arms case.

Kumar’s lawyers told reporters that they opposed in the court any move to conduct brain mapping of the accused citing Supreme Court rulings which do not allow the test without the consent of the accused.

The arrest of Kumar in the Lankesh murder case comes two days after state Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said the SIT would soon clear the air whether the police have picked up the right person in the case.

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

The state government, which constituted the SIT headed by Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) B K Singh, had announced Rs 10 lakh reward for anyone giving clues about the perpetrators of the crime.

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.

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