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The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case was reported to have made a breakthrough of sorts with the arrest of 37-year-old KT Naveen Kumar with alleged links to an extremist Hindu outfit.

On Friday, March 2, SIT officials took him into custody for seven days to ascertain his possible role in the Gauri murder case, reported The Hindu.

The police described him as a “strong suspect” and said his call records indicate his affiliation to a radical Hindutva group, said media reports.

Naveen, from Maddur in Mandya district, was arrested by the Central Crime Branch sleuths on February 18 from the Kempegowda Bus stand in Bengaluru, reported The Hindu. He had with him over 15 rounds of cartridges of .32 calibre. He was taken into custody for questioning and later a case was filed with the jurisdictional Upparpet police under Sections 3 and 25 of the Arms Act.

In the course of his questioning, the police uncovered evidence of his alleged involvement in the Gauri Lankesh murder. He has been named as the first accused in the case. The cartridges found in Naveen’s possession and the cartridges that killed Gauri (of 7.65 calibre) are interchangeable in many weapons, according to ballistic experts.

Investigations have shown that Kumar is linked to a radical Hindutva outfit called the Hindu Yuva Sena and that he is also allegedly linked to members of the Sanatan Sanstha outfit and its affiliate the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. SIT is now on the lookout for at least four activists outside the State.

Gauri Lankesh, 55, was shot with a 7.65 mm country-made pistol in the driveway of her home in west Bengaluru on the evening of September 5, 2017 by an unidentified man wearing a helmet. The suspect who rode the getaway motorcycle was also unidentified.

CCTV footage obtained by the SIT showed a man conducting a recce of the journalist’s home a few hours ahead of her killing. The physical structure of the man found conducting the recce in the CCTV footage has a close resemblance to that of Kumar, said media reports.

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