Journo killing: SIT formed, parties condemn killing

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New Delhi, Sept 6 (PTI): Karnataka government on Wednesday night formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe into the brutal killing of Gauri Lankesh’s murder even as political parties of all hues came out strongly against the killing of outspoken journalist Gauri Lankesh, with the Congress calling it a chilling reminder of rising intolerance and bigotry and the BJP demanding a swift probe to punish the guilty. IGP (Intelligence) BK Singh will head SIT probe into the killing, Karnataka home minister Ramalinga Reddy told reporters here on Wednesday night. A number of chief ministers as well as Union ministers also expressed outrage at the killing of the 55-year-old senior journalist, known for her strong views against right-wing forces. As Lankesh’s murder on Tuesday evening outside her residence in Bengaluru triggered waves of spontaneous protests across the country by journalists and civil rights groups, the Union Home ministry sought a report from the Karnataka government on the killing. Condemning the attack, Congress president Sonia Gandhi

said the party stood with rationalists, thinkers, journalists and the media fraternity. “It is an extremely sad moment for our democracy and a chilling reminder of the fact that intolerance and bigotry is

raising its ugly head in our society,” Gandhi said. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said anybody who spoke against the ideology of the BJP and RSS was “pressured,

beaten, attacked and even killed”. The comments drew a sharp reaction from the BJP which

accused Rahul of trying to make “political capital” out of Lankesh’s murder and rejected as “irresponsible and baseless” the allegations linking the killing to the people following

its ideology. The BJP also asked the Congress government in Karnataka

to arrest the killers swiftly, wondering if a Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted by it today, would meet the same fate as the one probing the August 2016 murder of

rationalist M M Kalburgi, whose killers were still to be untraced. “The government, the BJP or any of its organisations have no connection with the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh,” Union minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari told reporters. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi spoke to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and urged him to swiftly bring the culprits to book. The CPI(M) also expressed shock over the killing, alleging that it fit into the “familiar pattern of eliminating voices that dare to speak against the climate of intolerance by the RSS and BJP”. The Left party also demanded that the Karnataka government identify and arrest the killers. Condemning the murder, AAP expressed the fear that its leader and former scribe Ashish Khetan could meet a similar fate for taking on right-wing elements. The chief ministers of Punjab, West Bengal and several other states also condemned the killing. Lankesh, the editor of Lankesh Patrike, had returned home in her car and was opening the gate to her house when the assailants on a motorcycle fired at her indiscriminately. Two bullets hit her on the chest and one on her forehead, police officials said in Bengaluru.

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