The same gun was used to kill journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh and rationalist M M Kalburgi in Karnataka, the state forensic science laboratory has confirmed in a report, sources in the Special Investigation Team said.
The forensic report submitted to the SIT probing the killing of Lankesh is part of the first chargesheet filed recently by the SIT naming K T Naveen Kumar as an accused.
However, Kumar, who was recently arrested, in a statement to the SIT has claimed he had failed to arrange for bullets to execute the plot to kill Lankesh.
The chargesheet is the first official confirmation of the link between the two killings which happened after a gap of two years of each other.
Kalburgi, 77, was shot dead in his house on August 30, 2015, in Dharwad and 55-year old Lankesh on September 5, 2017 in Bengaluru.
The SIT members had earlier talked about the same-gun theory but for the first time it has come out in the open to show that Kalburgi's murder was the handiwork of the same gang.
The bullets in both cases 'have been fired through a single country made pistol chambered for 7.65 mm caliber pistol cartridges', a source said quoting the report.
The report also pointed out that the scratches formed by the firing pin on the bullets tallied among themselves.
In his recorded statement, a copy of which is available with PTI, Naveen Kumar said he became aware of the conspiracy to kill Lankesh last August after Praveen Kumar, another suspect, told him about it.
He further said Praveen Kumar had told him to arrange for bullets to kill Lankesh, but he couldn't complete the task. He told the SIT that he came to know of her killing through television channels.
Naveen Kumar also told the SIT that he had met another suspect Sanjay Bansare in last November and was asked by him to arrange for firearms to kill K S Bhagwan, a Kannada writer and rationalist who is also a strong critic of Hindutva.
However, Naveeen Kumar's lawyer Vedamurthy alleged that his client gave the statement to SIT under pressure from officials during interrogation.
According to the statement, Naveen Kumar had also said he was earlier associated with Sri Ram Sene and Bajrang Dal, and started to promote the Hindu ideology.
He said he had also started his own outfit called 'Hindu Yuva Sene', according to the statement.
Lankesh, who was known for her strong anti-Hindutva stand, was shot dead in front of her house here on September 5 last year, triggering a nationwide outrage.
The SIT has arrested four persons for allegedly plotting to kill Bhagawan and is probing whether they have any links with the Lankesh murder case.