The Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the murder of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh, has revealed the progress made in the case thus far.
In June 2017, two men with affiliations to Sanathan Sanstha - Amol Kale and Dada (an alias) - had allegedly summoned one of their foot soldiers to a hotel in Belagavi.
Amol Kale, who is originally from Pune in Maharashtra, and Dada were reportedly scheduled to meet Manohar Edave, another member of a pro-Hindutva group, at Hotel Sweekar in Belagavi.
Edave was allegedly tasked with finding out more about journalist Gauri Lankesh and also conducting a detailed reconnaissance of her house in Bengaluruâ€™s Rajarajeshwarinagar, SIT sources revealed.
â€śAmol and Dada are believed to have told Edave that Gauri Lankesh had been making statements against Hindutva groups and wanted to know more about her. The planning for Gauri Lankeshâ€™s murder began then. The meeting at the hotel in Belagavi may be the beginning of the conspiracy hatched to kill her,â€ť an investigation officer said.
On May 29, the SIT tasked with tracking down Gauriâ€™s killers arrested three more persons in connection with her murder. The SIT had reason to suspect that Amol Kale, Amit Degvekar and Manohar Edave, were involved in Gauri Lankeshâ€™s murder after the Upparpet police arrested the trio on charges of gunrunning.
Hence, on Thursday, the SIT had filed for the custody of Amol, Amit and Manohar. Now the trio are in 12-day police custody.
â€śA diary was seized from Amol Kale alias Bhaisab. In the diary, he had highlighted one name â€“ Dada and also had written down several phone numbers in it. There is also a map of the locality Gauri lived in which was drawn in the book,â€ť the officer added.
The SIT, which has conducted searches of the homes of Amol Kale in Pune, Amit Degvekar in Goa and Manohar Edave in Bijapur, have reportedly recovered evidence, which they believe tie them to the conspiracy hatched to kill Gauri.
The SIT had also arrested Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen on May 18, who they believe is the handler of another accused in the case KT Naveen Kumar. Naveen is a resident of Mandya and founder of Hindu Yuva Sene, which is affiliated to Sanathan Sanstha.
â€śA diary has been recovered from Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, in which there is a sketch of Gauri Lankeshâ€™s house and the roads surrounding it. In the diary recovered from Manohar Edave, there is a list of items which were procured as precautionary measures. They have noted the presence of CCTV cameras. There are mentions about helmets, the entry and exit points and also certain elements meant to carry out a brutal act. The drawings, maps and other elements in Edaveâ€™s book match the directions given to him by Amol and Dada when they met in Belagavi,â€ť SIT sources said.
The SIT is also going to perform a handwriting analysis to see if these diaries belong to the suspects in the case.
As many as 22 mobile phones were allegedly recovered from Sujeet Kumar, 21 mobile phones from Amol Kale and one from Edave. Totally there are about 74 SIM cards which have allegedly been seized from all the five accused. There is suspicion that these phones were used for hatching the plan to kill Gauri Lankesh.
Also, the chargesheet filed against accused KT Naveen Kumar states that Gauri Lankesh was killed as those behind the murder believed she held â€śanti-Hindu viewsâ€ť and â€ścriticised Hindu godsâ€ť.
â€śWhen Amol, Amit, Manohar and Sujeet Kumar were arrested, several bullets were recovered. There is also suspicion on whether the source of the bullets recovered from the Upparpet police station may be the same ones used for the murder,â€ť SIT sources added.
The SIT is questioning the suspects on the various locations in which they allegedly met before the murder, what vehicles they used and also how they hatched the conspiracy to kill Gauri Lankesh.