Gauri Lankesh trial begins five years after murder

The late activist's sister, Kavita Lankesh, refuted allegations that she was trying to "divert the case against the pro-Hindu organisations".

Gauri Lankesh, murder trial
Gauri Lankesh was gunned down on September 7, 2017, near her residence at Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bangalore West

Nearly five years after journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh was shot down, a sessions court in Bengaluru started the trial of the case on Monday (July 5).

To complete the process quickly, the trial is scheduled for five days every second week in the coming few months.

Two of the undertrials are lodged in a Mumbai prison and one is in Pune and the rest of the accused are in Bangalore’s Parppana Agrahara prison. All the accused allegedly belonged to right-wing groups.

On Monday, the trial started with the presence of the accused through video-conferencing (from prisons) and the court recorded the statement of Lankesh’s younger sister Kavita Lankesh, who reportedly met a couple of accused after two months after the murder.

On Tuesday, the evidence (bullets, cartridges, clothes, CCTV visuals and other materials) collected from the home of Lankesh (where she was murdered) was produced before the court.

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The Special Investigating Team framed the charges (Section 302 (murder), Section 120B (criminal conspiracy),  Karnataka Organised Crime Act and Arms) against the accused after two years after the delay due to COVID.

According to the charge sheet, the accused were trained in using explosives and guns and allegedly hatched a plot to attack Lankesh between 2013 and 2018  after laying out a plan to kill “all such activists in Karnataka and Maharashtra”.

Kavita’s statement recorded
On Monday, Kavita Lankesh refuted allegations that she was trying to “divert the case against the pro-Hindu organisations”. Earlier, she reportedly said Naxal leaders targeted her sister because she tried to bring them to the mainstream.
She said that she was not aware of Gauri Lankesh’s links with Naxal leader Saketh Rajan, who was killed in a police encounter.
According to Kavitha, her sister also had connections with late playwright Girish Karnad, lawyer-activist Jignesh Mewani (now MLA), student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and Prof Chandan Gowda (earlier with Azim Premji University). However, it was “not right to say they are all Naxal sympathisers”.
The arrested accused are Amol Kale, Parashuram Waghmore,  Ganesh Miskin, Amith Baddi,  Amith Degvekar,  Bharath Kurane, Suresh H L, Rajesh Bangera,  Sudhanva Gondalekar,  Sharad Kalaskar, Mohan Nayak, Vasudev Suryavanshi, Sujith Kumar, Manohara Edave, Srikanth Pangarkar, K T Naveen Kumar and Rushikesh Deodikar.
Senior counsels Krishna Murthy, Umashankar, Gangadhar Shetty and Rajesh Shyam appeared for the accused and Special Public Prosecutor S Balakrishnan argued for the prosecution.

Gauri Lankesh was gunned down on September 7, 2017, near her residence at Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bangalore West. Seventeen accused have been arrested and are serving as undertrials in the prison, where one accused Vikas Patil alias Dada is absconding.

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