Gauri Lankesh and MM Kalburgi were killed with the same 7.65 mm country gun, reveals forensic report.
M M Kalburgi was killed on August 2015 while Gauri Lankesh was murdered in September last year.
The report, which was attached to the charge sheet filed by a Karnataka Police Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, was placed before the court of the third additional chief metropolitan magistrate in Bengaluru on May 30.
This is the first official indication by any government agency of the linkages between the murder of Gauri Lankesh and M M Kalburgi.
According to police sources to the newspaper, the finding suggests that a common group of assassins shot both people dead. Kalburgi (77) was killed on August 30, 2015, in Dharwad while Gauri Lankesh (55) was murdered outside her house in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017.
Earlier on September 14, 2017, The Indian Express reported that preliminary forensic analysis of bullets and cartridges found at the site of the shooting of Gauri Lankesh and those recovered from the killing of M M Kalburgi revealed that the same pistol was used.
The forensic report enclosed in the charge sheet filed against KT Naveen Kumar, one of five people accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, states that the bullets and cartridges in both the murders “have been fired through a single country made pistol chambered for 7.65 mm caliber pistol cartridges”.
Following the murder of Lankesh, police recovered the three bullets that pierced her body and a bullet that missed her, along with their four empty cartridges. These were compared with the two bullets and their cartridges from the M M Kalburgi murder.
“The bullets in article no 6, 18 and 19 (the Lankesh case) and the bullets in article no 2 and 3 concerned in Vidyagiri PS Cr No 142/15 vide FAS/150/15 (the Kalburgi case) have been fired through a single country made pistol chambered for 7.65 mm caliber pistol cartridges,” states the report.
The report also contains details of the comparison between the “class characteristic marks” and “individual characteristic marks” of the firing pin on cartridge cases in the two murder cases, which “are tallying”. From the analysis of individual marks on cartridges, the report confirms they were fired from the same 7.65 mm pistol.
The report also states that “MicroStation lines”, or microscopic scratches, on the bullets, recovered “are tallying among themselves” and with those in the other case.
Gauri Lankesh was killed after four bullets were fired at her by an unidentified man whose face was covered with a helmet while she was opening the gate to her home in Bengaluru after returning from work on the evening of September 5, 2017. The killer is suspected to have arrived on a motorcycle with an accomplice.
The Karnataka SIT has arrested five people affiliated to Hindutva groups — Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) — who are suspected to have carried out the murder.
In a charge sheet filed against the first person arrested, KT Naveen Kumar from Maddur in Karnataka, the SIT stated that Gauri Lankesh was killed for making statements against the Hindu religion and Gods. KT Naveen Kumar is affiliated to the Hindu Yuva Sena and attended several meetings of the Sanatan Sanstha in Karnataka and Goa.
Last week, the SIT arrested four more people believed to have played central roles in the murder — Sujeet Kumar from Udupi, Amol Kale from Pune, Amit Degwekar from Ponda and Manohar Edave from Vijayapura.
Meanwhile, no arrests have been made so far for the killing of Kalburgi at the doorstep of his Dharwad home.