Two days after rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead during a morning walk, police are yet to achieve a breakthrough with hopes of getting some leads from a CCTV footage being dashed due to blurred images.
According to an eyewitness, two youths aged between 25 and 30, had fled the crime scene riding a bike after firing shots at the 69-year-old anti-superstition activist. Police is also verifying the number plate details as given by the eyewitness to trace the vehicle.
The CCTV footage, recovered by cops immediately after murder of Dabholkar on Tuesday, has not yielded any concrete clues on the identity of the unknown assailants who gunned down the activist on a city bridge during morning walk as it was “blurred and unclear”, police said.
“We are still examining the CCTV footage which has only shown images of two motorbike riders. But it is blurred and unclear to establish identity,” an official in-charge of the investigation said.
“The investigations are on and so far no individual or organisation has been identified for involvement in the murder,” he added.
Eight squads have been formed by Pune police crime branch to track down the killers who continue to be at large after more than 48 hours.
In Mumbai, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced an award of Rs 10 lakh to anyone giving information about the activist’s murder.
He blamed opponents of the anti-superstition bill for the killing and said organisations behind such acts should be isolated and their activities stopped.
The state government had on Wednesday cleared a proposal to promulgate an ordinance to check black magic and inhuman religious rituals.
“The forces which did not want this Bill to be presented and passed into a law were the people responsible for silencing his voice,” Mr. Chavan said.
“Those who targeted Dabholkar were not political organisations. This is ideological rift. People who carried out such assassinations, they are not political parties,” he said.
Based on the eyewitness account, police has circulated the sketch of one of the two suspects allegedly involved in the killing.
The investigators are also exploring the possibility of Dabholkar being tailed by the assailants right from Mumbai from where he landed in the city on Tuesday morning, sources said.
As part of man hunt, police teams have also been sent to neighbouring district of Satara from where the activist hailed and also to adjacent Sangli. A Mumbai police team has arrived in the city to assist in the probe.
Dabholkar’s broad daylight murder triggered public outrage with political parties and social organisations staging demonstrations demanding that the assailants be nabbed.
The activist was running an anti-superstition movement in Maharashtra and had even drafted a Bill for the purpose in the late 1990s.
“It was a well planned and premeditated murder is what I am saying,” the Chief Minister said.
“What has happened is most reprehensible. It brings a black name to the fair name of Maharashtra. The only thing we can do is to catch the culprits and the conspirators,” he said.
“What we are seeing is a fractured polity and special interest groups making unreasonable demands just to become popular, so that they play for the vote bank politics to expand their political space,” he said.