Gauri Lankesh, a 55 years old journalist and an activist from Bengaluru, Karnataka was shot dead by two assassins on September 5, 2017. She had worked as an editor in a Kannad daily named Lankesh Patrike established by Gauri’s father P. Lankesh. While working as an editor in Lankesh Patrike she also started her own weekly named Gauri Lankesh Patrike.
Gauri was a very active outspoken critic of radical Hindutva and had been honoured with Anna Politkovskaya Award for expressing her ideas against right-wing Hindu extremism, opposing caste based discrimination and campaigning for women’s right. Her ideology against radical hinduism became the reason of her murder.
It was on the night of September 5, 2017, when Gauri was shot by three suspicious men at her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Bangalore. Gauri was locking the main gate of her house after returning from her office, then suddenly one of the killers who was waiting near Gauri’s house shot a fire on her.
He was joined by other two killers who were following Gauri on a motor-bike from her office. The killers shot a total of seven bullets out of which three bullets pierced her head, neck and chest which resulted in her death right on the scene of occurrence. The killers then fled from the scene on the motorbike immediately after killing Gauri. They all wear helmets, therefore their identity was not deciphered.
After the news of Gauri’s assassination gone viral, there was a nationwide protest against the act. She was given a state funeral with a gun salute on 6th september 2017 after her body was kept for a few hours at Ravindra Kalakshetra for the public to pay her a tribute. Her funeral was attended by around 25,000 people and is considered as one of the most high-profile journalist murder case of past years.
The investigation of this case was assigned to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) by the then Congress Government of Karnataka state. An FIR was filed by the Rajarajeshwari Nagar police on the complaint of Kavitha Lankesh, younger sister of Gauri Lankesh.
The Ballistic’s department of Karnataka forensic science laboratory reported that Gauri was killed by the 7.65mm country made pistol, which was the same gun used to kill Kannad scholar M M Kalburgi (77 years old) at Dharwad in August 2015 and Leftist thinker Govind Pansare (81 years old) at Kolhapur, Maharashtra in February 2015 .
In November 2018 the SIT of Karnataka Police filed a chargesheet of 9,328 pages against 18 people who targeted the journalists they considered as “Anti-Hindu”. 17 accused have been arrested and one accused named Vikas Patel (aka Nihal) has been absconding.
Further investigations revealed the existence of a network of hindu extremists in the country. Some of the accused of this case were alleged of being trained with firearms and explosives by the people suspected of the terrorists acts in 2006-2008 period.
The accused of Gauri Lankesh Murder are:
Amol Kale, 37 years (Mastermind)
Parashuram Waghmore, 27 years (Shooter)
Ganesh Miskin, 27 years (Shooter)
Amith Baddi, 27 years
Amith Degvekar, 38 years
Bharath Kurane, 37 years
Suresh H L, 36 years
Rajesh Bangera, 50 years
Sudhanva Gondalekar, 39 years
Sharad Kalaskar, 25 years
Mohan Nayak, 50 years
Vasudev Suryavanshi, 29 years
Sujith Kumar, 37 years
Manohara Edave, 29 years
Srikanth Pangarkar, 40 years
K T Naveen Kumar, 37 years
Rushikesh Deodikar, 44 years
The trials of the case started in 2018 and are still going on. The 17 accused have been identified as the members of an leftwing extremist syndicate who were charged with the charges of murder, organised crimes and gun crimes. The charges framed against the accused include:
- Indian Penal Code: Section 302 (for murder), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 114 (abettor being present at the time of committing of offence), 118 (concealing design to commit heinous offence), 109 (abetment to committing offence), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 203 (false information about offence committed), 204 (destruction of evidence), 35 (criminal act by several persons).
- Indian Arms Act: Various sections for the possession and prohibited use of guns and ammunition.
- Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act, 2000: Section 3, Pertaining to Organised crimes.
After charges were framed on the accused in September 2021, a special court ordered their shifting to the Central Jail, Bangalore from the prisons at Tumkur, Ballari, Mysore and Shimoga.
In May 2022, the court of principal city civil and sessions judge Justice Chandrashekhar Mrutyunjaya Joshi in Bengaluru said that he will hear the case for five consecutive days in the month of July before the second Saturday. But the hearing is likely to witness a slowdown over the coming days on account of Justice Joshi’s elevation to the Karnataka High Court.
In the last hearing at the principal sessions court the trial for the case is been posted to September 5, 2022 that is on the fifth anniversary of the Gauri Lankesh Murder Case. The trial is being slowed down till the appointment of new sessions judge and resumption of trial.
Gauri Lankesh murder case had shaken the nation as it is one of the most high profile journalist murder case. It also revealed the formation of various conspirated leftwing hindu extremist syndicates in the country, which is quite a concern.