K S Bhagwan murder bid: 2 turn approvers

BENGALURU: In the alleged conspiracy to eliminate rationalist Prof K S Bhagwan, two accused persons — one who was trained in shooting and the other who sold bullets illegally to KT Naveen Kumar — have turned approvers. The Upparpet police had recently filed a chargesheet in connection with the case and had charged eight accused in the case. Among them, seven accused were the ones who have been arrested in connection with the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. K T Naveen Kumar, Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, Amol Kale alias Bhaisaab alias Sanjay Bansare, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep Mahajan, Manohar Dundappa Edave alias Manoj and Nihal alias Dada (still absconding), who are also accused in Gauri murder case, have been chargesheeted for the alleged plot to murder Prof Bhagwan.

The other two accused, who are being treated as approvers now, are D Anil Kumar alias Ani — a close friend of accused Naveen Kumar — and Syed Shabbir, who works in a shop that sells firearms in the city. The police have not arrested them in the case so far. In the chargesheet, the police mentioned the duo as accused, but have requested the court to consider them as approvers. Both have already recorded their statements before a magistrate.

Though the term ‘approver’ is neither defined nor used in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), according to section 306 of the code, it is a person, supposed to be directly or indirectly concerned in or privy to an offence to whom a pardon is granted, with a view to secure his testimony against other persons guilty of the offence.

According to the statement made by Anil Kumar before the magistrate, Naveen had asked him to procure an air gun and practice shooting. He had also allegedly asked Anil to keep a watch on Bhagwan’s movement, as he had made derogatory statements against Hindu religion and Hindu Gods. When Sujeet, Kale, Amit Degwekar and Nihal had come to meet him in Maddur in January, Naveen had introduced Anil to them, saying he had given Anil the responsibility to keep tab on Bhagwan.

Syed Shabbir, who works at City Gun House in Kalasipalya, told that Naveen had visited the shop and had purchased two air guns for `3,500 each in a span of a week, about seven to eight years ago. “He returned after a week and asked for a licensed pistol but he did not have gun licence. When I refused, he pestered me to give bullets at least, claiming that he wants them to just use as lockets and not for any other purpose. As I was in dire need of money, I asked my friend Amjad, who worked in Bangalore Armoury, to give wasted bullets.

Three days later, Amjad gave me 18 rounds of .32 bullets. The same evening, Naveen called me over the phone and subsequently I sold the bullets for `3,000,” Shabbir, who had identified Naveen Kumar as part of identification parade procedure, has told in his statement.

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