Maharashtra ATS gets custody of 2 linked to Gauri Lankesh murder
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has taken custody of the two suspects arrested on Wednesday in connection with the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, from the special investigation team (SIT) of the Karnataka Police.
The accused, Bharat Kurne, 37, and Sujeeth Kumar, 37, were arrested by the SIT after their names were found in the diary of Amol Kale, said to be the second-in-command of the right-wing group involved in terror activities. They were produced before a special court and remanded in police custody till September 17.
But Maharashtra’s chief public prosecutor Jaysingh Desai argued Kurne and Kumar were linked to the group arrested for possession of arms and ammunition by the state ATS in Nalla Sopara in August.
“Investigation has revealed there were several plans hatched by this group and some were withdrawn. Kurne is one of the key members involved in the planning,” Desai told the court.
According to ATS, Kurne was the one who drove Lankesh’s killers to a safe house in Bengaluru’s outskirts. The agency, after interrogating another arrested suspect in the case, found that Kurne owned a three-acre farmhouse in Khanapur (in the Belagavi district of Karnataka) and trained Lankesh’s murderers to handle firearms. “The probe revealed that the accused conducted a recce of their target,” Desai told the court. The ATS also informed the court that they had located five two-wheelers (which were stolen) in connection with the case and are trying to confirm if two of them are from Karnataka.
Last week, the ATS arrested a mechanic named Vasudev Suryavanshi from Jalgaon who they believe modified the licence plates of the stolen bikes. Four of them have been kept in the ATS’ Juhu unit while one is in Pune.
The defence counsel for Kurne and Kumar objected to the ATS’ demand for their longer custody, arguing that the duo have already been in the SIT’s custody for long and nothing new would come out of them.
Bharat Kurne, 37, said to be key suspect, and Sujeeth Kumar, 37, were arrested by the Karnataka SIT and were remanded in police custody till September 17