In a major breakthrough in the investigation as to who murdered senior journalist Gauri Lankesh outside her home in Bengaluru, the Karnataka Police SIT have released sketches of suspects involved in the killing.
The SIT also released sketch of one of the suspects who reportedly conducted a recce ahead of the murder. A video of the recce was also released.
According to various media reports , soon after releasing the sketches, SIT police chief BK Singh said, “There are two suspects in the case. The sketches are similar because they have been made by two artists based on different eyewitnesses’ accounts.”
Singh also sought help from the public and asked them to provide details, if any, about the suspects and the two-wheeler that was used in the crime.
“We have investigated 200-250 people in connection with the case. Based on the info, we made sketches. We want people to cooperate and therefore, releasing suspects’ sketches,” he said.
He, however, denied holding any particular group or outfit behind the murder plot.
“Can’t ascertain the religion of suspects by external appearances like tilak or earrings as it could be done to mislead,” Singh said when asked if Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha had any role in it.
“That info (Sanathan Sanstha) is only in the media. From our side, there is no info of involvement of any organisation till now,” he said.
The Sanatan Sanstha has denied any role in the killing of Lankesh and called the allegations against the group ‘an effort to falsely implicate’ it.
Lankesh, a known critic of right-wing Hindu extremism, was shot to death by unknown assailants outside her home on September 5, who came with an accomplice on a motorcycle.
According to sources, the portraits were prepared using enhanced footage from CCTV cameras at Lankesh’s residence that captured the recce as well as the shooting. The SIT also took note of eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen the suspects in the area prior to the crime.
However, the quality of the enhanced images is believed to not be very good.
The SIT has, despite the blurred CCTV footage, managed to ascertain the colour and model of the motorcycle and a deity imprint on the front fairing.
One of the key findings in the investigation into the journalist-cum-activist’s murder has so far been the forensic report that the 7.65 mm country-made pistol was possibly used to kill Lankesh as well as noted Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi.
Kalburgi was shot dead on the morning of 30 August 2015 at his residence in Dharwad district of Karnataka by two unidentified men.
The report has led to the theory that both Kalburgi and Lankesh were killed by the same set of people.
Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy over the past few weeks has been asserting that the SIT probing the murder of Lankesh has identified the killer and that they are gathering a strong case against them.