The SIT, on Friday, 2 March, remanded one suspect into 8 days’ custody for interrogation in connection with the murder case of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead in September 2017. This is the first arrest in the case.
The suspect KT Naveen Kumar hails from Mandya district of south Karnataka but currently lives in Chikmagalur. Kumar is the founder of Hindu Yuva Sene.
The 37-year-old Kumar was on the radar of the investigative agencies. The Central Crime Branch, acting on a tip off that he was illegally trying to sell .32 mm cartridges in Bengaluru’s Cottonpete, arrested him on 18 February and recovered 15 rounds of cartridges from him.
The SIT – which suspected that he may have had contacts with Gauri Lankesh’s killers – demanded his custody. The SIT isn’t treating Kumar as a murder suspect in the case but as a “person of interest”.
According to The Indian Express, in conversations about guns and ammunitions to some of his friends from Maddur, Kumar had allegedly referred to the murder of Gauri Lankesh. The report further said that Kumar bore a close resemblance to the person caught on CCTV footage conducting a recce of the journalist’s residence a few hours before her murder.
The SIT had in October last year released sketches of the suspects. However, the development did not lead to a breakthrough as the team could not produce more details of the killers or their affiliation.
The younger brother of Gauri, Indrajit Lankesh, being dissatisfied with the investigation, announced in January that he would approach the Karnataka High Court demanding a probe by the CBI.
Lankesh was a Bengaluru-based activist and the editor of tabloid Gauri Lankesh Patrike. She was killed after unidentified men shot at her from close range, outside her residence in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, late on 5 September.