Parashuram Waghmare, the 26-year-old prime suspect in the murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, has reportedly confessed before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that it was he who had pulled the trigger and pumped three bullets into the victim. However, the SIT chief B.K. Singh refused to confirm the confession.
The SIT had arrested Waghmare on Monday from his hometown Sindagi in Vijayapura district and took him into custody for 14 days. They interrogated him overnight on Wednesday.
Based on the earlier confessions made by the other accused, K.T. Naveen Kumar, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen, Amol Kale alias Bhaisaab, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep Mahajan and Manohar Dundappa Yavde, the police suspect Waghmare had a major role to play in the assassination.
Sources in the SIT had earlier hinted that it was Waghmare who pulled the trigger, but later the SIT officials refused to say it on record and said the investigation was still underway and his exact role was yet to be established.
All accused had links with Hindutva outfits, while Naveen himself is a founder of Hindu Yuva Sene group. During the interrogation, Waghmare reportedly told the SIT that it was he who pulled the trigger and the pistol was arranged for by Naveen. He also told them that one Nihal alias Dada drove the bike and he was riding pillion on a fateful day. A team has been sent to Maharashtra to track down Nihal.
Waghmare, according to a source, is dodging the probe and misleading investigators about his role. “When he was questioned about murder weapon and the bike used to carry out the murder, he maintained that he gave it to someone but he does not remember whom,” a source privy to the investigation said.
Meanwhile, the SIT has intensified the investigation to trace the murder weapon and vehicle. The team suspects that one of the accused either has them or at least information about it.
It is learnt that the accused had procured a country-made pistol from an illegal arms dealer in Vijayapura district and he also had a list of eight people identified as their targets. The accused had also plotted to eliminate rationalist and Kannada writer Prof K.S. Bhagwan and procured country-made pistol to kill him before the recent assembly election. The plan, however, failed after the arrest of Naveen and with other members going underground.