The Special Investigation Team probing the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh has taken into custody Naveen Kumar for allegedly taking the murderer to the spot on his motorcycle. Kumar is 38-years-old and was held by the SIT on Friday, March 2.
Later in the evening, a city sessions court remanded Naveen Kumar to eight days in SIT custody. According to TOI, he is a resident of Maddur in Mandya district and founder of a unit of the Hindu Yuva Sena.
The SIT suspected that on the night of September 5, 2017, Kumar took the murderer to Gauri Lankesh's residence in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, southwest Bengaluru. The arrest was confirmed by SIT deputy chief MN Anucheth, "Since he’s a suspect, we’ve taken him into custody,” he said to The Times of India.
Kumar was picked up last week from KSRTC bus stand in Bengaluru with a gun and some live bullets. He was taken into custody by the Jnanabharathi police. And this is when the SIT officials found out that he had boasted to his friend that he was involved in the Gauri Lankesh murder.
After thorough questioning, SIT officials decided to take him into custody and approached the court on March 2. The officials also suspect that Lankesh's killers belonged to the same group that was also involved in the killing of MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.
According to TOI, SIT has confirmed that the same weapon was used in all the four murders.
A source told TOI, “We had the footage from near Gauri’s house on those two days showing the biker on what appears to be a recce. Naveen’s posture on a bike resembles the man in the footage. We’re waiting for forensic confirmation that the recreated images of Naveen riding the bike matches the man in the CCTV footage,” the sources explained. “We have enough evidence to establish his presence in RR Nagar on September 3 and 5."
“Naveen vanished for 15 days and surfaced later. He boasted to a friend that he had been involved in a big job. Naveen also asked the friend whether he was watching TV news and the latter asked him whether it was the Gauri murder. Naveen laughed it away but the friend tipped us off about it,” the sources added. “Naveen admits only to harbouring four individuals from a right-wing organization. We have drawn their sketches based on his description. We are sure one of them, a man with a receding hairline killed Gauri,” SIT sources added.
TOI reported that Kumar in his statement to the police said a friend from Mangaluru requested him to arrange the practice session. He was informed that this is being done for a big mission. Then, the four met Kumar at his residence.“After picking up Naveen, the five men travelled in the same vehicle to a forest between Kollegal and Chamarajanagar.” SIT sources also added that a man from Mysuru had filed a statement with a Bengaluru court claiming that he too was part of the session.