“The state government has decided to reward Rs 10 lakh to any person providing information or clues to the killers of Lankesh,” state Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy told reporters here.
The decision was taken at a special meeting Chief Minister Siddaramaiah held earlier in the day with Reddy, Home Department officials and the Special Investigation Team (SIT), set up to probe the sensational murder of the 55-year-old woman journalist outside her house by three unidentified men.
State Director General of Police R. K. Dutta and Director General of Police, Intelligence, A.M. Prasad were also present at the hour-long meeting in the afternoon.
“The Chief Minister also directed the SIT to intensify the probe and nab the culprits at the earliest as it has been given adequate force and logistics support to crack the case,” said Reddy.
The 21-member SIT, headed by Inspector General of Police B.K. Singh was formed on Wednesday, with the city’s Deputy Commissioner of Police, West, M.N. Anucheth as the Chief Investigation Officer.
Siddaramaiah also reiterated his government’s readiness to reward anyone who furnished a lead into the crime.
On the concerns of the Lankesh family over the delay in nabbing the culprits, as in the case of noted Kannada scholar-cum-rationalist M.M. Kalburgi two years ago, Reddy said the SIT was formed with the specific task of hunting down the killers soon.
“Our intention is to crack the case as soon as possible. We agree with the family and the public that the culprits should be identified and brought to justice,” he said.
Kalburgi, 77, was shot dead on August 30, 2015 in his house at Dharwad in the state’s northern region, by unidentified men, who still remain unidentified despite a massive hunt and Rs 5 lakh reward.
Asked about controversial remarks by opposition Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker Jeevaraj that Lankesh would not have been killed had she condemned the murders of Hindu activists in the state in the recent past and criticised the Chief Minister, Reddy said he had asked the SIT to find out the intention behind the observation.
“I have asked the SIT to call him (Jeevaraj) and find out what he meant as I am not aware in what context he said so,” noted the new Home Minister who took charge last week after the state cabinet expansion on September 1.
Meanwhile, Jeevaraj, admitting that he had used some words in his speech at the rally in haste, clarified there was no ill-will or intention behind them.
“I have jumbled some words in hurry due to paucity of time to flag of the rally to Mangaluru for the protest demo. What I actually meant was she (Gauri) should have pressurized the Chief Minister to arrest those who were responsible for the murder of 11 Hindu activists during the Congress regime. Had the killers of Kalburgi been nabbed, she would not have been killed. Her death has pained me too as I too knew her well,” he said in a statement from Sringeri.
Reddy, however, noted that none of the BJP’s state unit leaders or lawmakers visited Lankesh house or were seen at the venue where her body was kept for public homage on Wednesday or at her burial in the city later on that day.