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Gunrunner, aide in Gauri chargesheet

File picture of a rally protesting the murder of Gauri Lankesh.

Bangalore: The police special investigation team probing the murder of veteran journalist Gauri Lankesh filed its first chargesheet on Wednesday, naming alleged gunrunner K.T. Naveen Kumar as an accused.

The 650-page chargesheet filed before the first additional chief metropolitan magistrate details the role of Naveen and Sujith Kumar alias Praveen, an accomplice.

The duo have been charged under IPC Sections 302 (murder), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 118 (concealing a conspiracy) and 114 (abetment to the crime), and also under provisions of the Arms Act, SIT sources said.

The chargesheet has 131 statements, including those from the forensic science laboratory that analysed the bullets fired on Gauri, who was gunned down in front of her home on September 5, 2017.

It also includes statements of Gauri's family members and the doctors who performed the autopsy.

More chargesheets will be filed as the SIT is still looking for the person who shot Gauri, 55, and a possible standby usually hired in such crimes.

Known for her strong views against communalism, Gauri used to run a Kannada magazine named Gauri Lankesh Patrike.

Naveen and Praveen face jail terms of up to 10 years if convicted.

According to an SIT source, the chargesheet details how the team narrowed down on Naveen's involvement in the case.

He has been accused of gathering ground information, such as Gauri's movements, for the actual killers who are believed to be from another state.

A gunrunner with links with Right-wing Hindu outfits, Naveen was arrested in February by Bangalore police. An illegal .32 pistol and 15 live rounds of ammunition were seized from him.

Since it was the same calibre of weapon used in killing Gauri, Naveen had been handed over to the SIT for further investigations.

It was later found that Naveen, who hails from Maddur in Mandya district, was linked to a fringe group called the Hindu Yuva Sena after a short stint with the Bajrang Dal.

Based on information provided by Naveen, the SIT arrested Praveen on May 20.

The investigators included Praveen's name in the chargesheet based on Naveen's admission that he had assigned Praveen to trace Gauri's house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar on the outskirts of Bangalore, the source said.

Praveen led the investigators to three others, two of them from Maharashtra, who had earlier plotted to kill rationalist scholar K.S. Bhagawan who lives in Mysore.

The SIT has arrested Amol Kale and Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep Mahajan who hail from Maharashtra, and Manohar Dundappa Yavade, who is based in Bijapur, Karnataka. The trio were arrested from Davanagere in Karnataka and are now in the SIT's custody.

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