India: Detained suspect confesses to shooting newspaper editor Gauri Lankesh

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) congratulates the authorities in the state of Karnataka, in southwestern India, on the arrest of a man who has confessed to being the gunman in newspaper editor Gauri Lankesh’s murder after nine months, even if they have yet to identify the instigators.

Parashuram Wagmore, 26, a member of the far-right Hindu group Sri Ram Sene, is the latest suspect to be arrested by the special team set up by the Karnataka authorities to investigate last September’s murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, a well-known critic of Hindu nationalism, in Bangalore, the state’s capital.

After Wagmore’s arrest on 12 June, the local press reported that he had confessed that he was recruited in May 2017 to kill Lankesh in order to “save my religion” and that he was the gunman on the back of a motorcycle who shot her several times outside her home on the evening of 5 September 2017.

“We hail the arrest of Gauri Lankesh’s presumed killer and the efforts undertaken by the local authorities to ensure that this shocking murder does not go unpunished, and we urge the investigators to keep going until the instigators are identified,” RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said.

“We also urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to condemn actions and virulent statements by the Hindu nationalist movement that help to foster a climate of hate conducive to physical attacks against critics.”

Prime Minister Modi has said nothing about the Lankesh case, despite the progress being made in the investigation. Although the Karnataka police have summoned the head of a local branch of Sri Ram Sene for questioning, the group’s founder and national leader, Pramod Muthalik, has denied that it had any role in Lankesh’s murder.

In a much-criticized statement, Muthalik nonetheless likened Lankesh to a dog. “Many wanted PM Modi to react after Gauri Lankesh’s death,” he said. “Why should Modi react if some dog dies in Karnataka?”

India is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, two places lower than in 2017.

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Updated on 23.08.2019