The Special Investigating Team (SIT) of the Karnataka police, which is investigating the murder of senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, arrested a key suspect who was absconding. Rushikesh Devdikar, also known as Murali, was arrested in Katras in Jharkhand's Dhanbad district on Thursday.
He will be produced before the judicial magistrate on Friday and his house is being searched for clues, SIT officials said. Murali is a native of Aurangabad. He is alleged to be one of the key conspirators in the murder of Gauri Lankesh. He is accused of conspiracy, planning and recruiting members to carry out the murder.
He also provided resources to carry out the murder, including training and guns for those who shot the journalist, the Indian Express reported.
So far, 18 people have been arrested by the SIT for their alleged involvement in the murder of Gauri Lankesh. Murali was named as accused number 18 in the chargesheet filed by the SIT in November 2018 in connection with the murder. The chargesheet identified him as â€śthe ideological motivator and main recruiter for the murderâ€ť.
The journalist was shot dead in front of her house in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017, when she returned home from work. Six of the men accused in the case are also named as accused in the MM Kalburgi murder, which took place four years ago. These men were also linked to the Sanatan Sanstha, a radical pro-Hindu group, by the SIT.
Jharkhand DGP KN Choubey said that Murali was working in a petrol pump in Katras area of Dhanbad. He was closely associated with the Sanathan Sanstha's Hindu Janajagruti Samiti till around 2010. He is regarded as a key member of the crime syndicate that killed rationalists and journalists in Karnataka â€” Narendra Dabholkar (69) in 2013, Govind Pansare (81) in 2015, and Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi (81) in 2015 â€” along with Virendra Tawade and Amol Kale.
Though Virendra was arrested in 2016 by the CBI in connection with the murder of Dabholkar, the SIT stated that the group reassembled under the leadership of Amol Kale. Murali is considered another important member of the syndicate.