The Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) filed a 9,235 pages long charge sheet in the Gauri Lankesh murder case on November 27, 2018. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the SIT had invoked the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) in the case in August, claiming that an unnamed organisation had carried out the murder, enraged by Lankesh’s ideals.
However, according to a report published on January 6 in The Hindu, like other earlier reports, the name of the “unnamed” organisation is not entirely “unknown” after all. According to this report, the SIT claimed that Shashikant Rane alias Kaka (some earlier reports had said that Kaka was a certain Shankar Narayana) a former editor of Sanatan Prabhat, the mouthpiece of Goa-based Hindu terrorist organisation Sanatan Sanstha (SS), had funded the group that killed four rationalists and writers. Kaka died of a cardiac arrest in April 2018.
All the eighteen arrested by the Karnataka SIT in the case, are or were the members of the SS or its affiliated organisations. The Hindu report revealed that the SS has been directly involved in the political assassinations of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. Apart from throwing some light on the mystery of Kaka, the report also disclosed the proofs establishing the SS membership of all the chief accused.
Also Read: Hindutva Terror: Story of the Common Link Between the Four Murders
How was the Assassination Group Formed?
Kshatra Dharma Sadhana is one of the many books authored by the founder of SS, Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale. The book preaches to the sadhaks and sadhikas about the strategies and tactics to achieve Hindu Rashtra. One such strategy according to the book is to kill the ‘durjan’ (evil people). A copy of the book has been recovered from the house of one of the accused, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen, associated with the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), a splinter of SS. Kaka is said to have brought the group together to kill the ‘durjan’ and funded it, which resulted in the four assassinations.
Amit Degvekar of HJS and Amol Kale of SS, who were recently granted bail by the Pune Sessions Court, were mobilised by Kaka, the SIT report said. Kaka funded the group through Degvekar and also had introduced him to Dr. Virendra Singh Tawde of SS- the main accused in the case of Dabholkar. Amole Kale is said to be the heading this group. The SIT had recovered a “hit list” with names of rationalists and dissenting voices and two passbooks of bank accounts from Degvekar: the accounts have his residential address as: Sanatan Ashram, Ramnathi, Ponda, Goa, noted the report in The Hindu. Degvekar worked as a proofreader for Sanatan Prabhat.
Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha's Terror Network
The Karnataka SIT led the operation that brought the larger conspiracy of the Hindutva extremist groups in functioning in the country. Bombay High Court and even the Supreme Court have time and again reminded the investigative agencies not to undermine the cases. Nevertheless, there has been very little progress in the cases of Dabholkar and almost no development in the cases of Pansare and Kalburgi.
CBI’s Approach to the Investigation
The family of Pansare have written to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to appoint a lawyer to represent the case in Supreme Court this month. Uma Devi, the widow of Kalburgi had filed a petition in the apex court stating that the four cases were related and Kalburgi’s case is being overlooked. According to a report in The New Indian Express, a bench of Justices U U Lalit and Navin Sinha asked the CBI to inform it by January 10, 2019, as to why it should not investigate all the four cases if there appears a link among all the murders. However, the families of the rationalists are against pushing the cases into the hands of CBI.
Also Read: Delay in Investigations: What Are the CBI, CID and SIT up to?
CBI, which is investigating the case of Dr. Dabholkar, is still far from arresting the assassin even though they have been on the case since May 2014. The CBI arrested Sachin Prakashrao Andure of Aurangabad on August 18, 2018, alleging that he was among those who shot Dabholkar. Andure is the fourth person to be arrested in the case. On June 20, 2014, Manish Nagori and Vilas Khandewal were arrested by Pune police. Following a PIL filed by journalist Ketan Tirodkar, the CBI had taken over this case in May 2014, on the directions of the Bombay High Court. In May 2016, Virendra Tawde of SS was arrested in connection with the case. Along with Tawde, the CBI has named Vinay Pawar, who is missing since 2009 and Sarang Akolkar, who is absconding in the October 2009 Goa blast case, as prime suspects. The CBI also suspects that Andure hatched the murder conspiracy with Tawde. However, the inability to track the accused shows the lackadaisical approach of the CBI towards this investigation.
Megha Pansare, daughter-in-law of Comrade Pansare and Kavita Lankesh, sister of Gauri Lankesh, are concerned that the handing over of the cases to CBI will slow down the investigation further.
Read More: Gauri Lankesh Murder Accused Granted Bail in Dabholkar Case