Members of a Hindu extremist group involved in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017 also watched activities of rationalist Narendra Nayak in Mangaluru in 2016 after identifying him as a target, according to the details of investigation placed in court by a Karnataka SIT.
One of the persons arrested in the case, Rajesh Bangera, 50, allegedly the arms trainer of the group, has provided details of a two-day surveillance by him on the movements of Nayak, the president of Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations.
The SIT has enclosed details of 'panchnamas' conducted at various locations in Mangaluru where Bangera and a Mangaluru youth, who was recruited and trained to carry out an attack, allegedly conducted surveillance on the rationalist for two days. As per the panchnama, Nayak's home was pointed out to Bangera by an associate living in Mangaluru.
The SIT probe has also found that Bangera trained four youths identified as Mohan, Yathin, Yathish and Kumud in the usage of guns prior to carrying out the surveillance. One of these youths was taken along by Bangera for the surveillance, SIT's probe details indicate.
The SIT has also probe found a diary belonging to the prime accused in the Lankesh murder case, Amol Kale, with an entry stating, "KA new practice and deployment'' with the names Bhagawan, NN, Nijuguanand and Kaka listed as "`targets''. The SIT has indicated that this entry outlined plans of the extremist group to target four persons - writer K S Bhagawan in Mysore, rationalist Narendra Nayak in Mangaluru, anti-superstition campaigner and seer Swami Nijuguanand and playwright Girish Karnad in Bengaluru.
The diary also lists identity of the gang members chosen to carry out the attacks - with the names "Govinda, Builder'' - now identified as Ganesh Miskin and Parashuram Waghmore - the nick name "driver'' against the target "NN", "fruits'' against the Nijuguanand's name "laundry'' against the target "Kaka".
It is learnt that the group was in an advanced stage of targeting Kannada writer Bhagwan in Mysore in February 2018 when the SIT probe in the Lankesh murder achieved a breakthrough, resulting in disruption of the plan. A separate case has been registered by Karnataka police in the plot to murder Bhagwan and seven of the 18 persons accused in the Lankesh murder case have been charged.
In its chargesheet, the SIT has documented the finding of 16 bundles of copies of Sanatan Prabhat, the mouthpiece of radical Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha, at the home of Bangera after his arrest.
The SIT has filed a 9,235 page chargesheet against 18 persons - 16 arrested and two absconders - in the Lankesh case, stating that the murder was carried out by a group whose key members acted according to principles and guidelines outlined in a book called Kshatra Dharma Sadhana published by Sanatan Sanstha.
"The members of this organization targeted persons who they identified to be inimical to their belief and ideology. The members strictly followed the guidelines and principles mentioned in "Kshatra Dharma Sadhana", a book published by Sanatan Sanstha,'' the SIT has stated.