Twenty days after KT Naveen Kumar was picked up by the Special Investigation Team probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case, he has now been arrested and booked for murder.
Naveen Kumar, the founder-member of Hindu Yuve Sena, a fringe Hindu outfit, was taken to custody on February 18 by the Special Investigative Team in Bengaluru’s Upparpet while he was allegedly trying to sell an illegal country-made .32 calibre revolver and 15 live bullets.
The SIT had initially suspected Naveen Kumar to have assisted Gauri’s killers in the murder. However, on Friday, after interrogating him for over a fortnight, the SIT has named him as accused in the case.
“Yes, he has been arrested, but whether he is the primary accused can be determined only when chargesheet is filed. He has been booked under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code,” an investigating officer told TNM.
Naveen Kumar was produced before the 3rd ACMM court on Friday. The SIT submitted a sealed file to the judge containing crucial information obtained during the course of the investigation. Naveen Kumar has been remanded to five-day police custody.
The court has decided to hear the SIT's plea to conduct lie-detector test on Naveen Kumar on March 15. Accused Naveen Kumar had objected to undergoing this test when he was in the custody of the SIT. Hence, the investigative officers petitioned the court.
Gauri, 55, was the outspoken editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, which was known for its frank editorials. She was shot dead outside her residence in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwarinagar on September 5, 2017.
The SIT had initially suspected that Naveen had ferried the murderer to Gauri’s home in Rajarajeshwarinagar. They also claimed to have evidence to prove that Naveen’s presence in the area on September 5, the night of the murder, and September 3, the day the killers conducted a reconnaissance.
Naveen was believed to be a part of a four-member team hired to kill Gauri. The SIT also suspected that he may have been involved in the killing of noted rationalist and writer MM Kalburgi.
On February 24, officers of the Organised Crime Wing of the Central Crime Branch (CCB), Bengaluru police had first arrested KT Naveen Kumar and he was booked under the Arms Act.