It is now six years since the assassination of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh who was gunned down outside her home in Bengaluru, but the trial in her case is far from concluding even though the chargesheet in the case was filed in 2018.Since the trial belatedly began in March 2022, three judges have changed and only 83 of the 530 witnesses have deposed.“At this pace, the trial will take at least two more years to complete.A speedy trial is fair to Gauri Lankesh and the accused in the case,” says activist Shivasundar, a close associate of Gauri.A key development in the trial was last month a prosecution witness changing his statement about going to Pune with other accused in the case for arms training in June 2016.The witness had earlier stated that he had gone to Pune along with Sujith Kumar, a key recruiter with the  Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), an offshoot of the Goa-based hardline Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha.The witness earlier said he received training in using a gun.He has now changed his statement stating that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) coerced him into giving statements against the accused in 2018.This is the first witness in the case to change their statement, Special Public Prosecutor S Balan said.The SIT, which investigated Gauri’s murder, filed a 10,000 page chargesheet in November 2018 naming 18 Hindutva group members as the accused.The chargesheet said that the group behind Gauri’s killing did not assemble because they wanted to murder her — they came together years earlier in order to identify ‘deshdrohis’ (traitors), eliminate them, and establish a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.The affiliations of the 18 men were varied — some belonged to Sanatan Sanstha, others to HJS, and yet others to smaller Hindutva outfits like Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan.The start of the trial was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and due to a series of petitions filed by the defence.The trial finally began in March 2022 with proceedings held in the Principal Sessions Court in Bengaluru for three to five days in a month.Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is set to be the chief guest at the Gauri Memorial Day event to be held on Tuesday, September 5 in Bengaluru.Activists close to Gauri want to approach Siddaramaiah about setting up a special court to fast-track the trial in the case.

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