5 facts you must know about Gauri Lankesh

The Special investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder or Bengaluru journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh has made crucial findings and shocking revelations. The frightening suspicions that existed ever since 5 September, 2007 have now been confirmed with the confession of shooter Parashuram Waghmore. But what remains to be unveiled is the face of the actual killers, ie. the real conspirators behind the cold-blooded murder of secular activist Gauri.

Here are the disturbing revelations made by the SIT on Friday, 15 June, 2018:

  • Parashuram Waghmore, the shooter, confesses that she killed Gauri because he wanted to save his religion
  • The 26-year-old man from Pune was asked to kill a certain person as early as in May 2017.
  • Waghmore did not know who he was to kill until the day he pumped four bullets into Gauri Lankesh.
  • Parashuram Waghmore was merely a cog in the machine. He was led around Bengaluru by his handlers who alone had details of the plot.
  • Waghmore now says he now thinks he shouldn't have killed "the woman".
  • Parashuram Waghmore, a product of tough cadre training, would not reveal who his handlers were.

The killing that shocked Bengaluru, as it happened:

On September 5, 2017, Gauri Lankesh drove back alone to her RR Nagar home as usual. As she stepped out of the car to open the gate, she hears a light cough in the background. It was still early night but the street was deserted and the area wasn't lit up enough. She turns to look at the man who coughed. Parashuram Waghmore empties the magazine of the gun he carried, killing Gauri instantly.

Waghmore had got the gun only the other day. Previously, as he was trained up for the hit job by this handlers in Belagavi, he had been taught to use an air gun. However, he doesn't falter under the weight of the moment on the crucial day on which he was supposed to snuff out a towering free thinker and secularist in Bengaliuru.

Gauri Lankesh, the daughter of legendary publisher and free thinker Lankesh, was in the crosshairs of Hindu fundamentalist organisations for her hardcore secular ideologies. Gauri wans't cowed down by the serial killings of Karanataka free thinkers and secularists. She was warned many a time and she knew that death was lurking behind.

Parashuram Waghmore was the man picked to eliminate Gauri. His was an ideology-driven hit job. He did not know his victim, had nothing to do with her.

Gauri killing plot, in Parashuram Waghmore's words:

In his confession, Waghmore said his handlers took him to Bengaluru on September 3. He said he stayed at three houses in the next three days. An unnamed 'biker' took him to Gauri's place on the same day as part of the recce. The gang then shifts to another house in the city. Waghmore is supposed to finish his job the next day, September 4. But by the time the biker and Waghmore reached Gauri's house she had already arrived from the office and was inside. The plan fails and the duo move to yet another house in the city, the investigators told the Times of India.

On September 5, Gauri Lankesh had arrived home after giving final touches to the next edition of her magazine, Gauri Lankesh Patrike. This was the magazine she launched after her father's legendary publication Lankesh Patrike was taken over by her brother.

While Gauri was busy finalising the next edition of the magazine, whose content often raised accusing finger against the fundamentalist forces, Parashuram Waghmore was handed the gun by his handlers. "I was given the gun around 4pm by the biker and we went to her house in the evening. We arrived at the right time. Gauri had stopped her car in front of the gate and was opening it from inside when I approached her. I coughed lightly and she turned towards me. I pumped four bullets into her," Waghmore told the SIT, the Times of India reported.

Who are the real killers of Gauri?

The SIT team says the killers belong to an amorphous organisation comprising members of various radical Hindu outfits. No specific organisation is cited. According to investigators the organisation is nameless, while members are drawn from various likeminded outfits.

As many as 60 members from various fundamentalist organisations were involved in Gauri killing, the SIT said. The same killer outfit had worked behind the sensational killing of rationalists Govind Pansare and MM Kalaburgi as well. The same gun was used in all three killings. The killing of rationalists and free thinkers was the final outcome of careful, time-consuming plots. Each plot would take anything between six months to one year to result in the actual killing.

The SIT says the shapeless network behind the killing of rationalists has strong presence in five states - Karnataka, Maharshtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Gauri Lankesh murder: This photo has been produced from security footage near the journalist's home
Gauri Lankesh murder: This photo has been produced from security footage near the journalist's home

Besides Pansare, Kalburgi and Gauri other luminaries were also in the crosshairs of the network. The prominent would-be targets included Prof KS Bhagwan and filmmaker Girish Karnad. In the case of Bhagwan, the police could thwart the plot even as it entered its grim phase. Gauri's fate was different though.

Will real killers of Gauri Lankesh be revealed?

According to the SIT the killing of Gauri Lankesh bears all the marks of a cult killing. The killer didn't know who he was killing. He hardly knew his handlers who took him around the city to finish the job. He has a personal pledge of honour and faith not to reveal the identities of the persons he worked with. All that binds the different elements in the case is an ideology. Who recruited Waghmore? Who gave him the gun to shoot Gauri? Who took him around in Banglaore? "Asking such a question is taboo," says Waghmore.