The three arrests from Karnataka this week in the murder case of journalist Gauri Lankesh has brought the total number of arrested men to 10. While two people were arrested from Hubballi, another was arrested from Madikeri. Gauri Lankesh, 55, a vocal critic of hardline right-wing ideology, was shot dead outside her Bengaluru home in September last year.
The two men arrested from Hubballi in south Karnataka, Amith Baddi a goldsmith and Ganesh Miskin who manufactures incense sticks, are in police custody till August 6 - charged with murder and under the arms act. Fifty-year-old Rajesh D Bangera was arrested from Madikeri, the police said on Tuesday. He too has been sent to police custody till August 6.
There were protests in Hubbali by right-wing activists after the two men from the town were arrested by the special investigation team or SIT for their alleged involvement in the murder.
The two have the support of right-wing activists who say the men - and the others arrested - are innocent. The protestors handed over a memorandum to the tahsildar.
"We are giving this memorandum to say that we condemn the arrest of these Hindu youth and demand their immediate release. Already so many Hindus have been arrested in the Gauri Lankesh case. And now, without giving any reason, the SIT have arrested Anil and Ganesh on Saturday night even though these young men have no involvement in the case. They are the sole bread-winners for their families," one of them said.
Amith's mother, Jayashree, said, "They didn't tell us anything. They just took him away." Amith's wife tearfully added, "My small child keeps asking where papa is."
The support from Hindu groups and the depiction of the arrested men as innocent youth makes the affiliation between the arrested men and such groups seem more likely.
And makes it even clearer which way the investigation is heading.
The statement by the first man arrested in the case in February - Naveen Kumar - talks of his involvement with Hindu groups like the Sri Rama Sene headed by Pramod Muthalik notorious for being accused in the Mangaluru pub attack case - though he was later acquitted.
The statement also indicates how Gauri Lankesh was said to have made anti-Hindu statements and was a threat to the religion.
Four other men arrested in the case were being investigated for a plot to kill the Mysuru-based rationalist, K Bhagwan - with possible links to Gauri Lankesh's killing being made later.
HD Kumaraswamy, Karnataka chief minister, told NDTV, "In the case of Gauri Lankesh, the detailed investigation is going on in the proper manner. Details of who was behind that terrible crime should be revealed soon. But we have to wait for that."
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