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2017, Gun Thrown in Vasai Creek. 2019, Flood Havoc: As Govt Puts in Crores in Gauri Lankesh Case, Cops Embark on Mission Impossible

Police forces will have to employ experts to take up dredging work within a certain region where they know the gun was thrown from. They believe it was thrown off a bridge which was submerged during monsoons this year.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:September 3, 2019, 8:02 AM IST
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2017, Gun Thrown in Vasai Creek. 2019, Flood Havoc: As Govt Puts in Crores in Gauri Lankesh Case, Cops Embark on Mission Impossible
File photo of Gauri Lankesh.
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Bengaluru: Nearly two years after the murder of prominent journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, an SIT probing the case will embark on a crucial mission to find the murder weapon – the only missing link in the investigation so far.

The search for the weapon – a 7.65 mm-caliber country-made pistol – will be taken up once the rains and floods subside at the Vasai creek near Mumbai. The mammoth task is estimated to cost more than Rs 2.2 crore, and Karnataka and Maharashtra will share the cost 30:70 in their quest for the one additional piece of evidence they hope will tie all loose ends in the case. A total of 18 people have been arrested in the case so far.

Police forces will have to employ experts to take up dredging work within a certain region where they know the gun was thrown from. They believe it was thrown off a bridge which was submerged during monsoons this year.

The quest for the gun is also important because it is the one major link between four murders — Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare in Maharashtra, and Gauri Lankesh and MM Kalburgi in Karnataka.

The SIT probing the Lankesh and Kalburgi murders has already established through ballistic evidence that the bullets recovered were fired from the same gun. Lankesh was killed on September 5, 2017, while Prof Kalburgi was murdered in August 2015. Ballistics have also linked the weapon to the murders of Left-leaning thinker Govind Pansare in 2015 and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013.

The weapon would be further clinching evidence to connect the dots and the search for it is being taken up based on the statements of one of the accused in the case, Sharad Kalaskar.

In all four cases, the modus operandi of the murders was the same – all four were shot dead in separate instances for their ideology or stance against the Right-wing; all were shot dead by two men on bikes, catching their victims unawares and shooting them at point-blank range; all four murders were allegedly executed by people affiliated with the Sanatan Sanstha.

The accused in the four cases are also known to each other. Ganesh Miskin, Accused No.9 in the Lankesh case, is suspected to be the one who pulled the trigger in the Kalburgi case, while the bike was allegedly driven by another accused, Praveen Chatur alias ‘Masalawala’. Chatur, 27, is a witness in the Lankesh case. He is also an accused in the case of a petrol bomb attack on a theatre screening Padmaavat.

The search for the gun may seem mission impossible given the amount of rains the city has seen over the last two years, but investigators do not want to give up without trying.

While chargesheet in the Lankesh case has already been filed, the chargesheet in the Kalburgi case will be filed very soon. With trials set to start, the SIT is confident of the evidence they have. But finding the weapon will boost their case.

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