SIT: No pressure on SIT, political statements in Lankesh murder case will not impact probe: Ramalinga Reddy, Home Minister, Karnataka

Karnataka home minister Ramalinga Reddy told ET in an interview that comments by neither his party vice president Rahul Gandhi nor Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will be allowed to influence the probe into slain journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh’s murder. Reddy, who took charge of the home portfolio just three days before Lankesh was shot in Bengaluru on September 5, said that he was confident the Special Investigation Team would crack the case. Excerpts:
Is there any progress in the Gauri Lankesh case?
I cannot reveal the leads to the media, but we are moving on the case. The SIT is doing its work and is looking at all angles. Some statements have been attributed to me, which are not true. I have not said Naxals are involved or anything like that.

What would you say about Rahul Gandhi’s statement that the BJP and RSS are involved?
Yes, Rahul Gandhi has made statements. Ravi Shankar Prasad has also made some. Many other people have discussed their theories in public. Let us not make any connections between the SIT and these statements. SIT will do the work they have been assigned to do.

Some people have suggested that the SIT is facing political pressure…
One hundred per cent, there will be no political pressure or interference in their work. SIT is staffed by professional policemen who have done this work for 15-30 years. We have also increased the SIT strength to 40 people.

There has been no result in MM Kalburgi even after two years…
The Kalburgi probe, yes, nothing has happened. The perception, whether it is of Gauri Lankesh’s family or the media or the public, is that if we had caught the killers of Kalburgi, this murder would not have happened. That is why the chief minister (Siddaramaiah) has set up the SIT and is taking special care this time.

Why was similar care not taken in Kalburgi’s case?
I don’t know much. But at that time, the family members said let us not give it to CBI. The CID handled it. This time, Gauri Lankesh’s family has met the CM and told him we have confidence in the SIT, let them do their work. We will crack it.

How do you respond to allegations that the Lankesh and Kalburgi attacks point to an intelligence failure?
Ravi Shankar Prasad also said so. I am not going in with any preconceived theories about this case. My mind is blank and open. In organised crimes, like the CM said, intelligence doesn’t get information very easily. It is difficult to keep track of things that may be from outside.

Several people, including Lankesh’s family, have suggested that this killing was a response to her writings…
It is possible that Gauri’s writings provoked this. We are looking at all angles. She did have her ideology, there are people who opposed it. The SIT is looking at all information including Facebook posts. They can go to any state, investigate within Karnataka, wherever and whoever they get doubts about, they can do the inquiry. We are not suggesting any angles or directions for the probe.

Police officials say a case that doesn’t get leads within 48 hours goes cold…
Let us see. I am still hopeful that it will not happen that way and things will work out.