Even as journalists and celebrities thronged the streets on Thursday to demand justice in the brutal killing of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh, the political blame game in Karnataka has already begun. After the ruling Congress party accused the BJP of silencing dissent, the saffron party hit back by saying that it is a move to shift onus from chief minister Siddaramaiah.
Social activist Teesta Setalvad and actress Shabana Azmi joined the protests in Mumbai to demand justice for the murdered journalist. The Special Investigation Team formed to probe the murder seems to be making headway and has established the facial features of the murderer through CCTV footage. However, the probe team seems to be at the receiving end of criticism for slow progress. ST Ramesh, director general of Police (retired), Karnataka told Livemint that "sky high" expectations from activists, citizens, politicians and the media, adds to the pressure on the investigating officer.
The Karnataka government on Friday announced Rs 10 lakh reward to anyone who provides clues about the killing of Lankesh.
SIT seeks help from public
The SIT has asked people to share any information they might have to help solve the crime. The Bengaluru police has also circulated a phone number and email id for people to share any information they might have on the case.
— BengaluruCityPolice (@BlrCityPolice) September 7, 2017
The team began its probe on Thursday, saying that it was hopeful of nabbing the assailants "as soon as possible." Karnataka government had announced the formation of a 21-member SIT team headed by IGP (Intelligence) BK Singh with DCP (West) MN Anucheth as the investigating officer to probe the killing of Lankesh.
While screening the footage of a seized CCTV, the police started pursuing a lead which suggests that the assailant operated alone. Public TV reported that the SIT has also made a headway in establishing the facial features of Lankesh's assailant. The footage was captured by a CCTV camera near a park, which the assailant had passed by after firing at Lankesh.
According to Public TV, the assailant took off his helmet near the park and turned in the direction of the CCTV camera. The line of inquiry that the SIT is following is that the murderer rode up to Lankesh's car, got off his bike and fired at her. Investigators are however, yet to get a clear image of bike's number plate.
'Add ideological colour to murder'
Lankesh's family said on Thursday that they would wait for the SIT to find culprits and approach the court if it fails. "The CCTV footage has found the image of the killer. The police can find some clues through her phone as well," her brother Indrajit said. Her siblings, according to an India Today report, are divided over who could have killed Lankesh.
Lankesh's brother Indrajit Lankesh had insinuated that the Naxals may be behind his sister's killing. He also quoted some sources who had informed him of a threat to her life because she was working with the state government to bring Naxalites into mainstream. However, her sister Kavita denied that the Naxals were involved in any way. She claimed that the journalist was working with the Naxalites and against right-wing forces.
However, the family remained united when making a plea against giving political colour to the murder. "I request, please don't give political colour to Gauri's killings, please give justice to a journalist, a woman and to our sister," Indrajit said. Refusing to comment on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP, Indrajit said, "What we want is justice and please don't add political colour to it, add ideological colour if you want, because she stood for her ideologies."
The political hue
After speaking with Siddaramaiah, Rahul tweeted that anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP will be attacked and killed. "They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India." Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday rejected his allegations as "baseless" and said that the groups affiliated with BJP have nothing to do with the murder, NDTV reported. He further said that Rahul's comments were unfortunate and it is the responsibility of the Congress government in Karnataka to ensure law and justice.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also slammed Rahul for "politicising the murder" and demanded to know why the state government failed to provide adequate security.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena also launched a veiled attack on the BJP on Thursday sought to know whether a "covert system" is in place for "silencing" people who oppose a certain school of thought. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party termed the incident as a "blot on humanity and on the country's reputation".
Sanatan Sanstha calls Lankesh 'extortionist'
Describing the outrage around the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh as full of "prejudices" and "targeted", spokesperson of Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha, Chetan Rajhans, on Thursday accused Lankesh of being an "extortionist" who had "links with Naxals".
In an interview with News18, he condemned the killing of the journalist but said that since she adhered to Left ideology, people are jumping the gun by accusing Hindu outfits. He added that people are overlooking the fact that she had disputes with her brother and was involved in extortions.
Lankesh's murder is constantly being paralleled with rationalists Narendra Dhabolkar and Govind Pansare. The Sanstha was mentioned in the Dabholkar murder case by the CBI in September last year.
Case against troll registered
The Delhi Police have registered a case on a complaint by journalist Sagarika Ghose after a Facebook post called her "anti-national" and said she should be assassinated like Gauri Lankesh.
The police have sought details of the IP address from which the post was written. It was posted by a user, Vikramaditya Rana, and the details of his profile are being probed. The post read, "Let d shooting of #GauriLankesh serve as example to those anti-nationals who masquerade as journalists & activists."
#BlockNarendraModi starts trending
After it was found out that Modi following some Twitter handles of trolls posting abusive content, #BlockNarendraModi started trending. BJP issued a statement saying, Modi following someone on Twitter is not a character certificate to that person and termed as "mischievous and contorted" the controversy over this.
"The controversy over prime minister following people on Twitter is mischievous and contorted. Modi is the only leader who freely engages with people on social media platforms," said BJP's head of Information and Technology Amit Malviya.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Sep 08, 2017 14:02 PM | Updated Date: Sep 08, 2017 18:11 PM