Suspect Parashuram Waghmare confesses to killing Gauri Lankesh to 'save religion', says didn't know victim's identity

Parashuram Waghmare, the last of the six suspects arrested in connection with the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh, has reportedly confessed to the murder. This comes after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder had said that Waghmare, who was taken into custody on 12 June, was her assassin.

According to a report in The Times of India, the 26-year-old claimed he didn't know the identity of the person he was killing. Sources in the report quoted Waghmare as confessing to the SIT, "I was told in May 2017 I had to kill someone to save my religion. I agreed. I didn't know who the victim was. Now, I feel that I should not have killed the woman."

Waghmere, an active member of the right-wing fringe outfit Sri Ram Sene, reportedly said he was 'brainwashed' into committing the crime. Following the revelations, the police is now investigation whether the Hindutva outfit had any direct links with the crime. The SIT has summoned Rakesh Math, the Vijayapura district president of Sri Ram Sene, for questioning, a senior police official told PTI.

 Suspect Parashuram Waghmare confesses to killing Gauri Lankesh to save religion, says didnt know victims identity

File image of Gauri Lankesh. PTI

The official, from the SIT, said they wanted to find out whether Math was involved in Lankesh's assassination and whether he "brainwashed" Waghmare to participate in the plot. Math and Waghmare were allegedly involved in hoisting a Pakistani flag outside the tahsildar office in their hometown Sindagi of Vijayapura district in Karnataka in January 2012.

Meanwhile, the Sri Ram Sene has distanced itself from the developments claiming Waghmare was not associated with the outfit.

The Sene chief said when the Pakistani flag hoisting issue had come to light, it was said that Waghmare was a member of Sri Ram Sene. However, he said he has proved that Waghmare was not a member of Sri Ram Sene but of RSS.

"I had shared his pictures sporting RSS uniform. I had said at that time that he is an RSS worker and not of Sri Ram Sene," Muthalik said.

Conceding that Math is the district head of Sene, Muthalik said he has been summoned for inquiry because all of them are from Sindagi town and were involved in the Pakistani flag hoisting incident. Since both Waghmare and Math were involved in the Pakistani flag case and were from the same town, the police might have summoned the latter for interrogation, he told PTI.

Meanwhile, reacting to news of Waghmare's reported confession, Gauri's sister Kavita told CNN-News18, "People are openly being threatened and harassed. We always knew why she was killed. Enough evidence is available. How did Waghmare save his religion by killing my sister?"

However, Karnataka deputy chief minister G Parameshwara refused to confirm the reports. He said, "A lot has been reported in the Gauri Lankesh case, but I can't reveal anything at this time," while adding that his comments may affect the investigation.

Meanwhile, a senior police official told PTI that the gang involved in Lankesh's murder has a wide network spread across at least five states comprising at least 60 people.

The SIT official has also said that the same weapon was used to shoot Lankesh and rationalists Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi.

He said the organised gang refrained from giving any specific name to their underground organisation.

Claiming that the organisation comprised people drawn from Hindu far-Right groups, the official said it had around 60 members spread across at least five states but had no name.

"We discovered that this gang has a network in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka," the official said.

He added that though the gang recruited people from hardline Hindutva organisations like Maharashtra-based Hindu Jagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha, these outfits may not be directly responsible for the killings.

Both organisations had denied their role in the killing of Lankesh, Pansare and Kalburgi.

Police suspect the involvement of at least three more people in the murder, and a hunt is on to find them. The investigators also found out that the suspects used to carry out their work in a phased manner. It involved recce, weaknesses of the target person, and finally, execution of the plan, the official said.

Lankesh was shot dead on 5 September when she was returning home and was opening the gate of her house. The murder triggered a nationwide outrage. The state government constituted the special investigation team to probe the murder. The team led by inspector general of police BK Singh has so far arrested six people, identified as KT Naveen Kumar, Sujith Kumar, Amol Kale, Manohar Edve, Amit Degvekar and Parashuram Waghmare.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jun 16, 2018 15:19:04 IST