Bengaluru: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh has taken Naveen Kumar alias Hotte Manja, 37, hailing from Maddur near Mandya into custody for questioning yesterday evening.Naveen is the first person to be taken into custody, suspected to have direct links to the Gauri murder case, but Police claimed that more arrests would be made in the coming days.
“Based on certain clues revealed by Naveen, the SIT has taken him under eight-day Police custody for further questioning,” said M.N. Anucheth, Chief Investigating Officer of the SIT.
The SIT sought Naveen’s custody based on his statements after his initial arrest by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) on Feb. 19. He was arrested with 15.32mm revolver bullets from near the Majestic bus terminus in the city. Naveen is being questioned for providing logistic support to the group suspected to have executed Gauri’s killing outside her residence in Rajarajeshwari Nagar on the evening of Sept. 5, 2017.
Naveen is also suspected to have been a member of a fringe right wing outfit in the State and his social media profiles had multiple messages supporting the ideology of such outfits. Police said that he belongs to an outfit called Hindu Yuva Sene.
The SIT has claimed that the main angle being probed is whether Naveen was involved in supplying the firearm used in the Gauri Lankesh murder. It is also suspected that Naveen was instrumental in providing logistic support to four men, reportedly involved in Gauri’s murder, but SIT Officials said they were still verifying these aspects.
Though there were reports that Naveen was identified for harbouring four men involved in the Gauri murder, including the shooter, the SIT refused to confirm it. “So far, we have interrogated over 40 gun runners across the State. As of now, Manja is also being subjected to the same procedure,” Senior Officials said.
The CCB had recorded Naveen’s arrest under Sections 3 and 25 of the Arms Act for illegal possession of live ammunition.