Sanathan Sanstha conspiracy behind Gauri Lankesh murder: SIT

Bengaluru: The Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is investigating the murder of senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, has in its additional chargesheet officially named Sanathan Sanstha for its involvement in the assassination that took place last September.

After the SIT filed its additional chargesheet before a court on Friday, there is now a debate within the government on banning the organisation, as all the 18 arrested in Gauri's murder have links with one or other Hindutva outfits linked to the Sanstha.

The alleged killers are also directly or indirectly linked to the murders of M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra Dhabolkar and Govind Pansare.

SIT officials said they had planned the murder of Gauri five years ago.

A day after SIT submitted the 9,235-page chargesheet before the principal city civil and sessions court Judge Shivashankar B Amarannavar, Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Dr G. Parameshwar said the state government would soon take a call on banning  organisations involved in the killing of Gauri.

"No discussions have taken place regarding the organisations involved in the crime, but shortly we will take a decision," Dr Parameshwar told reporters.

Sanathan Sanstha's name had appeared even during the beginning of the investigation, but the SIT had not named it officially until Friday.

In its first chargesheet the SIT had named Hindu Yuva Sene chief K.T. Naveen Kumar and another Hindutva outfit member Praveen alias Suchit Kumar.

In the additional chargesheet, the SIT named 18 people, including Naveen Kumar and Suchit, and made Amol Kale, Sujith Kumar and Amit Degwekar as the masterminds of the murder, which was allegedly executed by Parashuram Waghmore and Ganesh Miskin.

The SIT had in June recovered a diary from the accused, which contained a list of targets. It included film and theatre personality Girish Karnad, Kannada writer Prof K.S. Bhagawan, former minister and litterateur B.T. Lalitha Naik, rationalist C.S. Dwarakanath and pontiff Veerabhadra Channamalla Swamy of Nidumamidi Mutt.

The latest arrest in connection with Gauri's murder was of Vasudev Suryavamshi. He was first arrested by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in connection with the Nalasopara explosive case in October.

Suryavamshi allegedly provided the bike to Gauri’s killers, which they used to recce the area and later carry out assassination outside her residence in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar on September 5 last year.

Suryavamshi is also suspected to be involved the murder of rationalist Narendra Dhabolkar.

A file photo of Gauri Lankesh's home after the assassinationA file photo of Gauri Lankesh’s home after the assassination.

Sanstha founded in 2010
According to SIT, the investigation so far has revealed that all the 18 accused are active members of an organised crime syndicate, which was formed in 2010-11 under the leadership of Dr Virendra Tawade, alias Bade Bhaisaab. One former editor of Sanatan Prabhat provided financial support to this syndicate. The members of this organisation targeted people, who they felt were inimical to their belief and ideology. These members strictly followed the guidelines and principles mentioned in “Kshatra Dharma Sadhana”, a book published by Sanatan Sanstha. After the arrest of Dr Virendra Tawade in 2016 by the CBI for his involvement in the murder of Dr Narendra Dhabolkar, the leadership was taken over by Amol Kale. Other important members include Amit Degvekar, Vikas Patil, alias Dada and Rushikesh Deodikar , alias Murali. Vikas Patil had recruited Sujith Kumar, alias Praveen and Manohar Edave, alias Manoj, in order to carry out recruitment in Karnataka. Sujith eventually recruited Parshuram Waghmore, the shooter, K.T. Naveen Kumar and several others. Manohar recruited Ganesh Miskin and Amit Baddi. While recruiting the syndicate emphasis used to look for those with a history of aggression and violence, and those with a criminal background. The members of the organized crime syndicate met, conspired and trained at various places in Karnataka and Maharashtra. They were in constant touch with each another and took measures to hide their identities. They always used nick-names/assumed names and separate phones (other than their personal mobile phones) for syndicate activities. They were indoctrinated and underwent arms training, shooting practice and in the manufacture and use of bombs.

Gauri was ‘Durjan’
In August 2016, in a meeting of the Syndicate, the main members identified Gauri Lankesh as a “Durjan” as told in the Kshatra Dharma Sadhana, based on her speeches and writings, and hatched a conspiracy to murder her. Amol Kale instructed Nihal to obtain the office and residence addresses Gauri. In October 2016, Kale instructed Vasudev Suryavamshi to steal a bike for this purpose. Vasudev with the help of Sujith Kumar stole a black coloured bike from Davangere and handed it over to Kale.

In January 2017 Nihal then tasked H.L. Suresh with finding out the address. Suresh found the address of Gauri’s office is Basavangudi, and reported it to Nihal who gave it to Kale.

In March/April 2017 Kale instructed Amit Baddi and Ganesh Miskin to locate Gauri’s office and keep a watch on her movements.

Baddi and Miskin came to Bengaluru several times in those two months. They followed Gauri to her residence and stalked her movements to ascertain her daily habits.

They reported back to Kale with their findings.

In May 2017, Kale tasked Edave to do a “recce” of the locality of Gauri’s house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar to specifically find out the locations of CCTV in that locality. He did so and reported back.

In June 2017, Kale, Amit Degvekar and Nihal did a review of the “recce” done so far Baddi, Miskin and Edave and finalised the routes to be taken by the assassination team. In the same month several members of the syndicate were trained by Rajesh Bangera at the farmhouse of Bharat Kurne near Chikale village in Belagavi. In the first week of August 2017, Kale, Baddi, Miskin, Waghmore and Bharat Kurne met at Suresh’s house in  Seegehali, Bengaluru. Baddi, Miskin, Waghmore and Kurne comprised the assassination team.

The specific tasks (as mentioned before) to be carried out by each member were individually allocated. Miskin and Baddi were made to practice several times and memorize the routes they would take while executing the plan. Few days later, Mohan Nayak took a house on rent near Tagachu-guppe in Kumbalgodu located along the routes practised by the assassination team, under the pretext of running an acupuncture clinic.

In the third week of August 2017, Kale, Baddi, Miskin, Waghmore, Kurne, Sharad Kalaskar, Shrikanth Pangarkar and Sudhanva Gondalekar met in the house rented by Kurne in Belagavi to make final preparations and planning. Kurne then took Miskin, Waghmore and Kalaskar to an isolated hilly region near Kinaye in Belagavi, where Waghmore and Miskin underwent shooting practice using country made pistols, under guidance from Kalaskar.

In the beginning of September 2017, Kale and Nihal  brought and kept the bike, pistols, clothes, food articles etc at the Kumbalgodu house rented by Nayak. Suresh vacated his house from September 2 to 6, for the use of Kale and others. As per Kale and Nihal’s instructions the assassination team landed in Bengaluru the next day and stayed at the house taken on rent near Kumbalgodu.

On September 4, after arming themselves, Miskin rode the bike and took Waghmore to Gauri’s residence. However that night they were unsuccessful. Later on September 5, another attempt was made. Miskin and Wagmore left a little earlier and waited near Gauri’s residence. Between 8 and 8:10 pm, when Gauri returned home, stopped her car and got out to open the gate, Waghmore shot her four times and killed her.

The duo then escaped on the bike to the place where Baddi was waiting and handed over their pistols, rounds (ammunition), clothes, helmets etc and went to the Kumbalgodu house.

Kurne was waiting for them and dropped them off near Nelamangala toll gate and they escaped individually. Meanwhile, Baddi took the articles in a Maruti Omni van and kept them at the designated spot inside the home of Suresh in Seegehalli and escaped.

Ten days later, as per the directions of Kale, Sudhanva Gondalekar and Baddi came to Bengaluru and took back the bag containing the pistols and rounds and the bike used for committing the crime.

Both were handed over to Kalaskar in Belagavi separately.

Investigation regarding the absconding accused and other objects used to commit the office is still continuing.


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