The Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the Gauri Lankesh murder, are on the lookout for Nihal alias Dada — said to be high up the chain of conspiracy.
The probe by agencies in Maharashtra has now revealed the role of another person at large — Murali alias Shiva, a key member of the unnamed gang behind the murders of four thinkers — M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh — between 2013 and 2017.
“The real identities of both these men are yet to be ascertained. Nihal, Dada, Murali and Shiva are only their code names,” a senior SIT official said.
Officials said both are key members of the gang, probably higher up in the chain of command to Amol Kale, who was heading the execution team.
The arrest of these two men is expected to take the probe into the heart of the conspiracy and the organisations suspected to be behind the murders.
Multiple agencies — the Maharashtra police, the Karnataka police and the CBI — have launched a massive manhunt for the duo.
Senior investigators said the two men at large were a serious cause for concern, as they have the potential to regroup the remnants of the gang and indulge in other subversive activities.
Dr. Veerendra Tawde, an ENT surgeon from Pune, was leading the gang and was arrested in June 2016 by the CBI in connection with the murder of Narendra Dabholkar. Investigations have now revealed that Amol Kale assumed leadership of the gang and started preparations for the murder of Gauri Lankesh in December 2016.
“Unlike in 2016, most of the leaders of the gang have been caught now. But the danger of regrouping still remains, especially with these two brains behind the conspiracy still at large,” a senior official said.
Role of ‘mechanic’
The Maharashtra ATS recently arrested two men, Vasudev Suryavamshi and Liladhar from Jalgaon, Maharashtra.
Vasudev Suryavamshi, known by the code name ‘mechanic’, came up in the Gauri Lankesh probe as well. The 29-year-old is a skilled two-wheeler lifter and is suspected to have provided stolen bikes to be used for the Gauri Lankesh murder.
The Maharashtra ATS recovered a bike from a friend of Sharad Kalaskar, who was arrested in August, and is now a key accused in the Dabholkar case. Sharad Kalaskar reportedly confessed to the bike being used by Ganesh Miskin and Parashuram Waghmore to kill Gauri Lankesh.
However, ATS officials are not able to trace the owner of the bike. It is now suspected that Vasudev Suryavamshi alias ‘mechanic’ stole the bike and gave it to Sharad Kalaskar. Bikes stolen by Vasudev are now suspected to have been used in all four murders.
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