An accused in the conspiracy of murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh has been arrested by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) police in Karnataka. Rushikesh Devdikar alias Murali who was accused number 18 was taken into custody on Thursday from his hideout at Katras in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand.
The SIT team zeroed in on Rushikesh Devdikar location to Dhanbad district after tracking his mobile phone where he was reportedly working in a petrol bunk. The team which questioned the owner of the petrol bunk learnt that he had started working there as a caretaker for the last seven months after changing his name and identity.
The SIT has also conducted a search in his room where they found literature and other material, now being treated as evidence of his involvement in the conspiracy. The SIT claims that they have been able to ascertain his association with extreme right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha to which several other accused belong.
On preliminary questioning of Rushikesh Devdikar, the SIT police have allegedly learnt of his involvement in the conspiracy of murder of now just Gauri Lankesh but also MM Kalburgi who was shot dead near his residence in Dharwad district of Karnataka on the morning of August 30, 2015.
Republic has also learnt that the conspirators had assigned code word “Operation Amma’ to the plot of the assassination of Gauri Lankesh. The pistol used in the murder was allegedly dubbed as ‘Sudharshan Chakra’ by the conspirators who had ensured the real names were not used in any telephonic conversation.
The SIT police had announced that apart from Gauri Lankesh, those who colluded to carry out the attack also planned to assassinate several other prominent personalities who belonged to a rationalist school of thought and the group identified as ‘durjan’. The list included KS Bhagwan, Girish Karnad, rationalist CS Dwarakanath and politician BT Lalitha Naik.
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A total of 12 accused have been arrested by the SIT police from across the country. The police has also arrested Parashuram Waghmare - The alleged shooter and Ganesh Maskin - Bike rider.
The police have established that the murders of Gauri Lankesh, MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar were connected and two murder weapons were used to carry out the four assassinations.
Left-leaning journalist and activist, Gauri Lankesh, who was an outspoken critic of the right-wing ideology, was killed outside her residence on the night of September 5, 2017.