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The Special Investigating Team (SIT) has started its probe into the murder of journalist- activist Gauri Lankesh with the Karnataka government saying on Thursday it was hopeful of nabbing the assailants "as soon as possible."
The state government yesterday announced the formation of a21-member SIT team headed by IGP (Intelligence) B K Singh with DCP (West) M N Anucheth as the Investigating Officer to probe the killing of Gauri that led to a wave of countrywide protests and condemnation across the political spectrum.
"SIT members have started their investigation into the Gauri Lankesh murder case and the state government is hopeful of nabbing the assailants as soon as possible," state Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy told reporters here.
Replying to a query, Reddy said the Inquiry Officer has been given full freedom to probe the matter and make public information as and when required.
Asked whether police had given some hints on the ideological identity of the assailant based on prima facie evidence gathered by them, Reddy said, "The duty of SIT members is to investigate and nab the assailants. They may have some prima facie evidence, but they have the prerogative of not making it public."
He said police are screening footage of the seized CCTV which was fixed at the location where the 55-year-old outspoken journalist was gunned down.
Asked if there was any political compulsion for deciding against a CBI probe into the murder of Gauri Lankesh, Reddy said, "Who said this? We are open minded, and that is what Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said. If we feel the case is needed to be probed by CBI, we will hand over the case to it."
Gauri Lankesh, who is known to be an anti-establishment voice with strident anti-right wing views, was shot dead at close range by unknown assailants at her home here on the night of September 5.
Reddy said senior police officials are working on getting some more leads into the killing of progressive Kannada writer and rationalist Dr M M Kalburgi, 77, and that the government is hopeful of cracking this case as well.
"The Kalburgi case has come to a certain stage, but we still need to gather evidence. Senior officials are working on it. I am hopeful that the government will solve this case, as well as 99 per cent of such cases across the country, have been solvedand this will be no exception either," he said.
Gauri's murder comes just days after the second anniversary of the killing of Kalburgi, who fell to bullets fired by two unidentified men at his residence at Dharwad in north Karnataka on August 30, 2015.