Bengaluru: At least one senior Karnataka office-bearer of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an affiliate of the Sanatan Sanstha, knew about the existence of an “extremist unit” in the parent organisation, according to a probe by a Special Investigation Team of Karnataka Police in the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
Investigations have found that a Bengaluru-based co-ordinator of HJS, Mohan Gowda, allegedly put key accused, KT Naveen Kumar, in touch with this Sanstha unit in the planning phase of the Lankesh murder.
Gowda allegedly connected Naveen Kumar last year to Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, a 37-year-old Udupi
resident, who was part of this unit and was arrested on May 31.
Much of the information pointing to this link has emerged from “a signed voluntary statement” given to the
SIT by Naveen Kumar. The Maddur resident was arrested on March 2 for allegedly providing logistical
support to a group that came from outside Karnataka to shoot Lankesh at her Bengaluru home on September
When contacted by The Indian Express, Gowda said: “It is a police conspiracy. We will hold a press
conference soon on behalf of the HJS to speak on these issues.”
In his statement, Kumar refers to an annual convention of the Sanstha he attended in Goa’s Ponda in
“On the second day, there was a discussion on the protection of the Hindu dharma… I participated in the
discussion and expressed my personal view that the use of weapons and arms is necessary to protect the
Hindu dharma… Impressed by my speech, many people congratulated me. Mohan Gowda praised me a lot. I
told him I can procure guns and bullets. He told me there were many like-minded people and they would be
contacting me in the coming days,” he claims.
According to the statement, a few days after the convention, Kumar received a phone call seeking a
meeting from a man who identified himself as “Praveen” — the call was from a public booth. “He told me that
my phone number had been provided by Mohan Gowda from Bengaluru,’’ claims the statement.
“I called up Mohan Gowda and asked him about the call… He (Mohan Gowda) told me the caller was part of his
organisation and a person with my mindset. He told me to carry on working with the caller,’’ Kumar claims
A few days later, the statement claims, the caller visited Kumar and his wife at their home, stayed the
night and collected a few bullets that were in his possession to verify whether “they could be
On August 19 and 20, 2017, the statement claims, the HJS organised an event in Bengaluru, which was
attended by the man identified as Praveen. On the last day of the event, Praveen took Kumar to a park
near the venue in the Vijayanagar area of Bengaluru and told him that he needed assistance to kill
Lankesh, claims the statement.
“He told me Gauri Lankesh had been speaking in an insulting manner about Hindus and Hindu Gods, and
that they had decided to kill her,’’ Kumar claims.
Kumar claims he subsequently travelled to a Sanstha ashram in Mangalore on the invitation of a local
HJS leader on September 5, 2017, and learnt the next day from TV reports that Lankesh had been killed
On May 31, the SIT also arrested Amol Kale, 37, from Pune; Amit Degwekar, 38 from Ponda; and Manohar
Edave, 29, from Vijayapura, in connection with the Lankesh case.
Mohan Gowda has previous acknowledged that Naveen Kumar was associated with the HJS. “He is known to
us. He attended our adiveshan in Goa last year on our invitation. He has attended dharma sabhas in
Bengaluru and a programme on Bhagat Singh. He was also part of a programme held in his own hometown
Maddur,’’ Gowda had told The Indian Express earlier.