Rushikesh Dewdikar alias Murali, 44, was arrested from Dhanbad district of Jharkhand on Thursday, reports PTI. According to Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder, he was involved in the conspiracy to kill journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in September 2017.
Rushikesh is the 18th suspect to be arrested so far. He is believed to be absconding since the past one and a half year. His rented house at Dhanbad is being searched, where he is supposed to be living since the past eight months. He was tracked using the location of his mobile phone. Senior police officials said that the SIT has been directed to produce him before a Judicial Magistrate on Friday. He belongs to Aurangabad in Maharashtra where his family still lives. One of the suspects arrested earlier was Parashuram Waghmare, a sharp shooter.
A book by Sanatan Sanstha, a right-wing outfit described Lankesh as ‘durjan’ or an evil person. The gang that plotted her murder is said to be inspired from this book. Gauri Lankesh’s assassination in 2017 was in a series of killings following those of Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare in 2015. These killings are alleged to be linked. A fiery critique of the right-wing and Hindutva, she was shot dead by two assailants on a bike outside her residence in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017. She was the editor of Kannada weekly Gauri Lankesh Patrike. Her murder spurred nationwide protests.
Gauri Lankesh was one of the very few brave journalists that India has had in the past many years. Her killing was equivalent to the throttling of dissent and the freedom of speech and expression.