BENGALURU: Journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh had noticed strangers hanging around near her house days before she was shot dead by unknown assailants, but did not see it as a threat.
Gauri visited her sister Kavitha's place on September 2 and talked about strangers loitering near her residence, her mother Indira revealed.
"None of us, including Gauri, took it seriously. I'm not sure whether it were the same persons who killed her," she said.
Highly-placed Bengaluru police sources said Gauri was shot with a 7.65mm pistol. A similar weapon had been used in the killings of writer M M Kalburgi, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and left leader Govind Pansare. The ballistic reports are expected in a week, the sources added.
Two 7.65mm pistols were used in the three killings, the Criminal Investigation Department of Karnataka and the Maharashtra police had confirmed.
Police sources said the murder weapon was not a revolver. "One thing is for sure — it's a pistol and not a revolver as thought earlier. If a revolver was used, there would be no cartridges left behind at the crime scene. Based on the size and shape of the bullets, we have concluded that a 7.65mm pistol was used to kill Gauri," police sources said.
The sources, however, said they are yet to firmly establish if it was a country-made pistol. If it was a country-made pistol, the assailant must have been well-versed in handling it, they added.
"Usually, magazines of country-made pistols will not work quickly, particularly while pumping bullets in quick succession. The magazine gets jammed, requiring the weapon to be reloaded. Also, the pistol gets heated once the bullet is fired. In this case, the assailant used the weapon so confidently that he fired the bullets one after the other," a senior police officer said, adding that the assailant could be a contract killer.
"But we have not been able to establish whether the shooter was alone or worked with others," he said.
The special investigation team (SIT), which is probing Gauri's murder, visited her residence in RR Nagar on Thursday. SIT chief B K Singh and his team arrived at the residence around 1pm and carried out preliminary investigations, including collecting evidence and marking important clues such as bullet marks on walls. Singh was seen explaining the crime scene to his colleagues.
"SIT officials were seen clicking pictures of the bullet marks and the spot where Gauri collapsed," police said. The team inspected the spot where Gauri parked her car and sought to zero in on the places from where the assailant would have shot her. "The assailant shot Gauri from within a distance of 10 feet," an SIT member said.
Investigators also collected call record details (CDR) of Gauri's mobile phone and two landline phones in her office and at home.
"Between August 2016 and September 5, Gauri had received or dialled around 650 numbers that were not on her contact list. The team will filter all calls and sort names based on their relationship with her," police said.
Meanwhile, Gauri's associate Bhaskar Prasad approached the police and said unidentified people were threatening him. "I was working with Gauri Lankesh for various social causes, drawing criticism from some sections of the society. I received a call on September 6 midnight and the caller said they would kill me in three days. Please give me protection," Bhaskar Prasad told the DG-IGP after meeting him.
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