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Hindutva radicals arrested for Gauri Lankesh's murder, had over a dozen rationalists on hit-list too

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BENGALURU: The special investigation team (SIT) that was conducting probe into the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, has finally arrested the culprits who had plotted and executed the murder.

Those arrested include Parshuram Waghmare, Amol Kale, KT Naveen Kumar, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen, Manohar Edave alias Manoj and Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep Mahajan. One of the accused, Nehal alias Dada, is yet to be arrested.

Most of the accused have links with Hindutva groups. Probe reveals that the killers had several other persons including rationalists and intellectuals on their hit-list. It is suspected that this module may have been involved in killing rationalists in Maharashtra too. 

In fact, the same pistol that was used to kill her, was used in the earlier attacks, say sources. One of the accused, KT Naveen Kumar's wife told officials that her husband had purchased the pistol. 

Amol Kale, a Pune-based engineer, was the mastermind. During the probe, it was found that Kale had handpicked Parshuram Waghmare for the job. The killers kept an eye on her movement and there was a failed assassination bid earlier too. 

It was Waghmare who shot Lankesh. Police officials said that he readily confessed his involvement and when the investigators reached his house, he told them that he was expecting them. 

Waghmare was associated with the Ram Sene, a right-wing group active in Karnataka. He was arrested once when he hoisted Pakistani flag at a tehsildar's office in Sindagi to create communal tension. Since then, he was on the radar of the local police. 

Amol Kale was associated with the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), a right-wing group that has been active in Maharastrha and Goa. Lankesh, a journalist who was vocal against Hindutva extremism, was shot dead on September 5, 2017. The accused told investigators that they killed her 'for the sake of Hinduism'.