Sanstha behind Dabholkar murder, claims AAP leader

Ashish Khetan, however, remained tight-lipped about his source and did not upload any documentary proof of his allegations.

June 01, 2016 02:05 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 04:40 am IST - Pune:

In a startling turn to the drawn-out >murder probe of vocal rationalist Narendra Dabholkar , journalist-turned-politician Ashish Khetan has claimed that probe agencies had cracked the case and alleged that Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate, the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS), were behind the murder and that the assailants had been identified.

On Wednesday morning, Mr. Khetan, who is with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), unraveled his sensational allegations on social media where he confirmed that fringe right-wing groups had indeed perpetrated the murder of Dr. Dabholkar.

“Agencies have cracked the case. ‘Sadhaks of Sanatan Sanstha & HJS behind Dr. Dabholkar’s murder identified,” Mr. Khetan tweeted, sparking a flurry of anticipation on social media.

He, however, remained tight-lipped on his source and did not upload any documentary proof to back his allegations.

Following close on the heels of his allegations, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in the evening, carried out searches in Pune and Panvel in connection with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013.

In 2014, Mr. Khetan had named four members of the Sanatan Sanstha — Sarang Akolkar, Rudra Patil, Jaiprakash Hegde and Praveen Limkar – as being behind the murder. All four have been absconding since 2008. Patil, along with Akolkar, was among the 12 charged by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the 2009 Madgaon blast case.

Sources said the CBI searches were conducted at Akolkar’s house in Pune’s Shaniwar Peth area, and that of one Virendra Singh Tawde’s residence in Panvel near Mumbai.

Mr. Khetan further alleged on Twitter that while “probe agencies had wanted the Sanatan Sanstha, which carried out several bomb blasts in Goa and Maharashtra to be banned,” the then Congress government “had failed to act”. Firing yet another salvo at the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) coalition government, Mr. Khetan said that the Congress, “which has always been mixed up with right wing elements, made a complete mockery of the probe into Dr. Dabholkar’s murder”.

Reacting to Mr. Khetan’s allegations, noted activist Hamid Dabholkar said it was small wonder that the Sanstha’s name kept cropping up in the Dr. Dabholkar’s murder.

“Mr. Khetan’s allegations confirm our suspicions which we, along with the kin of Mr. Pansare and Mr. Kalburgi, have been expressing for a long time – that the murders are the handiwork of extreme rightwing elements. The State government ought to wake up at least now and reveal names of the assailants,” said Hamid Dabholkar.

The AAP leader has been diligently tracking the case since the past two years had earlier made similar allegations while exposing the shocking ineptness of the Pune police in tracing the assailants in a series of investigative magazine articles.

It was Mr. Khetan’s investigation which revealed that revealed that former Pune Police Commissioner Gulabrao Pol had held a séance to summon Dr. Dabholkar’s spirit in order to solve the case.

Dr. Dabholkar was shot dead during his morning walk on the Omkareshwar Bridge here in Pune in August 2013. The Bombay high court had transferred the probe to the CBI on May 9, 2014.

The Sanstha has been under the scanner of following the eerily similar modi operandi of the killers in the murders of Dr. Dabholkar, veteran Communist leader Govind Pansare in Kolhapur district and scholar-thinker M.M. Kalburgi, who was killed outside his home in Dharwad, Karnataka.

The arrest of Sameer Gaikwad, a Sanatan Sanstha member, in connection with Mr. Pansare’s murder in September last year, led agencies to question a tenable link between the three killings. It emerged that Gaikwad was a friend of Rudra Patil. The latter’s name has also cropped up in the Kalburgi murder.

Since then, the CBI has quizzed Gaikwad over the Sanstha’s role in Dr. Dabholkar’s murder.

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