Ganesh Miskin, the hitman allegedly involved in the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh, had also shot littérateur and researcher Dr MM Kalburgi dead in August 2015, according to the special investigation team (SIT).
SIT, probing the case, stated this in a charge sheet it had filed in the district court of Hubballi-Dharwad on Saturday (August 17). The other accused in the case were Amol Kale, Praveen Prakash Chatur, Vasudev Bhagavan Suryavamshi, Sharad Kalaskar, and Amith Ramchandra Baddi, the SIT said in a press release.
The gang was allegedly inspired by a book ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’ brought out by the Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu extremist group, the SIT said. The reason behind killing Dr. Kalburgi, said the SIT, was his observations while delivering a keynote address during a discussion on June 9, 2014 under the topic, ‘Towards a superstition-free society: A debate on the enactment of Karnataka Prevention of Superstitious Practices Bill, 2013’ at Vigyan Bhavan in Bengaluru.
Based on his speech, the gang depicted him as a ‘durjan’ (devil incarnate), as mentioned in ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’. “They all jointly hatched a conspiracy to murder Kalburgi in furtherance of the achievement of their goals and executed it,” the SIT said.
The gang members stole a bike to execute their plan, did a recce of their target, and had a round of practice shooting in a rubber plantation at Pilathabettu village in Dakshina Kannada district.
“Praveen Chatur and Ganesh Miskin then went on a stolen bike and reached Kalburgi’s house at about 8:30 a.m. on August 30, 2015. Ganesh Miskin then went to the house and shot Kalburgi twice on his forehead and killed him,” said the SIT.
The same gang had allegedly killed Gauri Lankesh on the evening of September 5, 2017, outside her house. Both the killings had triggered a nationwide protest.
In the Lankesh case, Miskin allegedly rode the bike while Parashuram Waghmare, another accused in the case, had fired. The bullets and empty cartridges found at the scene of Lankesh’s murder had reportedly revealed that the same country-made pistol was used to kill Kalburgi, suggesting that one outfit or group was responsible for both the killings.
The SIT, formed to probe into the Lankesh case, was told by the Supreme Court in 2019 to investigate the Kalburgi case too.