6 years on, activists seek speedy trial in Lankesh murder case | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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6 years on, activists seek speedy trial in Lankesh murder case

Sep 05, 2023 01:07 AM IST

Gauri Lankesh, an activist and journalist was shot dead outside her Rajarajeshwarinagar residence in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017

Bengaluru: As Tuesday marks the sixth anniversary of the assassination of activist and journalist Gauri Lankesh, her family and activists, who are unhappy with the slow pace of proceedings, are demanding a special fast-track court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis.

Six years after the assassination of activist and journalist Gauri Lankesh, her family and activists demands a faster trial. (HT Archive)
Six years after the assassination of activist and journalist Gauri Lankesh, her family and activists demands a faster trial. (HT Archive)

Despite the charge sheet in the case being filed under the Karnataka Control Of Organized Crimes Act in 2018, the trial remains in its initial stages. Only 83 of over 500 witnesses in the case have deposed before the court so far. The trial began as late as March 2022, and since then, three judges have changed.

Kavita Lankesh, the younger sister of Gauri, said that the family is unhappy with the slow pace of the trial and hopes the government will speed up the proceedings. “The charge sheet was filed in 2018, but instead of a speedy trial, the proceedings are being dragged on. We hope the government will speed up the trial,” she said.

An activist and a close associate of Gauri Lankesh requesting anonymity said, that the government should establish a special fast-track court to conduct the trial on a daily basis. “This demand is not new; in the past, we have approached the government, citing the delay in the trial. The murder and revelations during the investigation are worrisome, and it is important that the accused are punished at the earliest,” he said.

Gauri was shot dead outside her Rajarajeshwarinagar home in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017. The special investigation team probing the case found that an unidentified organization had recruited right-wing activists to carry out the murder.

The trial is also crucial because the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigation unearthed a link between the murders of four rationalists – MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dhabolkar, and Lankesh. During the initial days of the investigation, the SIT found a connection between the murders of Lankesh and Professor Kalburgi, who was killed on August 30, 2015. The four bullet slugs and cartridges recovered from Lankesh’s house matched with the slugs and cartridges of the Kalburgi murder case. The forensic labs found that both bullets were fired from the same gun.

The Maharashtra SIT, which is probing the murder of another rationalist, Govind Pansare, also found that the same gun was used in the Lankesh and Pansare murders. The link between the murders of Lankesh and Narendra Dhabolkar, another Maharashtra-based rationalist murdered on August 20, 2013, emerged during the later stages of the investigation.

Meanwhile, the state government has handed over the probe into death threat letters to several writers across the state for over a year now, to the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the Bengaluru City Police.

Over 15 writers and intellectuals from the state have written to G Parameshwara, the state minister of home department, stating that they have been receiving threatening letters for the past year and have sought time to meet him. They also said that they received letters saying that they will meet the fate of the late activists MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.

According to the complaint from the writers over the past year, several liberal writers in Karnataka have been persistently receiving death threats signed by an entity identifying as “Sahishnu Hindu.” While one individual was apprehended in connection with these threats, the threatening letters have persisted.

The order issued by Karnataka state police chief Alok Mohan has directed the Bengaluru City police commissioner to form a special team to probe the matter, with an assistant commissioner of police rank officer as the investigating officer (IO) and directed joint commissioner of police (Crime) to supervise the investigation.

A total of seven First Information Report (FIRS) were registered over death threat letters to writers K Veerabhadrappa, BL Venu, Banjagere Jayaprakash, BT Lalitha Nayak, and Vasundhara Bhupati, which have been transferred to the CCB.

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