Gauri Lankesh murder: Accused Naveen Kumar's custody extended till March 15

KT Naveen Kumar has been taken into custody in connection with the murder of Gauri Lankesh

A senior police officer speaking on anonymity told worldwide media that K.T. Naveen Kumar is a member of the Sanatan Sanstha, a group that gained prominence after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party came into power in 2014.

The arrest of Kumar in the Gauri Lanksh murder case comes two days after State Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said the SIT would soon clear the air whether the police have picked up the right person in the case. The court has reserved it orders until 15 March on whether to allow a narco-analysis test.

Kumar secured bail in the illegal arms case on Friday but will remain in the custody of the SIT which is probing his alleged role in the Lankesh murder case, according to Veda Murthy, the defense counsel in the case.

The Karnataka government had set up the SIT to probe the journalist-activist's killing. Links between Kumar and the Sanstha emerged after evidence surfaced that Kumar had organised a meeting of the Sanstha and the HJS in his hometown, Maddur, last November.

Naveen also reportedly was familiar where Gauri Lankesh stayed in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar.

Kumar's lawyer Vedamurthy argued that he had been in custody for 20 days, and there was no need to extend it.

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Kumar was arrested under the jurisdiction of Upparpet police station in west Bengaluru on February 18 based on a complaint by a Crime Branch official after he was found in the city allegedly carrying bullets.

The Karnataka government later formed a 21-member SIT, led by Inspector General of Police B K Singh, to investigate the case.

Indian police have arrested a member of a Hindu extremist group for his alleged involvement in the murder of a left-wing journalist, Gauri Lankesh.

A source close to the investigation told TNM, "During the course of investigation, we have had reason to believe that the group which is suspected of killing Gauri Lankesh was planning to kill KS Bhagwan next".

Police are trying to verify whether Kumar was seen on CCTV cameras conducting a recce on a motorcycle around the journalist-activist's home the day she was shot down.

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