Long wait for justice in the Govind Pansare case

It has been 7 years since he was shot; family still awaits trial

Updated - February 19, 2022 11:20 pm IST

Published - February 19, 2022 05:38 pm IST - Mumbai

CPI’s veteran leader comrade Govind Pansare. File

CPI’s veteran leader comrade Govind Pansare. File | Photo Credit: PTI

It has been seven years since rationalist and anti-superstition activist Govind Pansare was shot but the trial has still not begun. His family says there has been “no progress” in the case and it is very disheartening. On February 16, 2015, the 82-year-old author of Shivaji’s biography and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader was shot five times while he was returning home from a morning walk with his wife, and died on February 20. After arrest, Virendra Tawde and Sameer Gaikwad are out on bail and Sachin Andure, Amit Baddi and Ganesh Miskin are in jail. Amol Kale and Amit Degwekar, both accused in the journalist Gauri Lankesh murder (on September 5, 2017 in Bengaluru), case have also been arrested in the Pansare murder case. However, Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, believed to be the main shooters, are absconding. All the accused are alleged to be members of the Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu extremist group. The trial is far from commencing as defence lawyers keep taking dates. Special Public Prosecutor Harshad Nimbalkar said, “The trial court at Kolhapur has still not framed charges against the accused. The defense advocate has filed a discharge application for Dr. Tawde, Gaikwad and one other accused. Now arguments on the discharge plea will be made. After that is decided, the court will frame the charges and the trial will begin. The advocate has been unwell and the hearing keeps getting pushed. The next date is now February 23.”

‘Pace is very unsatisfactory’

Talking to The Hindu, Pansare’s daughter-in-law Megha Pansare said, “It is going to take a lot of time for the trial to begin. The defence lawyers keep postponing the hearing. In the Narendra Dabholkar [shot on August 20, 2013 at Pune] trial, four witnesses have already been examined. In our case, two shooters are still absconding, two accused are on bail, three accused have filed for discharge .. The pace is very unsatisfactory... There has been no progress..” Dabholkar and Pansare’s families have filed a petition before the Bombay High Court seeking swift investigation and speedy trials. However, even that has not been heard since one year. In February 2018, justice SC Dharmadhikari, who was monitoring the case closely, said, “The authorities are showing no urgency despite the tragic phase the country is witnessing, where one cannot speak or move around freely. Are we going to see a day when everyone will need police protection to move around, or to speak their mind?” The CPI wants the probe in the murder case to be transferred to the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad.

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