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Dabholkar murder suspect remanded in CBI custody till Aug. 26

Sachin Andure   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A day after Sachin Andure, alleged by probe agencies to be one of the shooters of rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a special court on Sunday directed the accused to be remanded to CBI custody till August 26.

 

In yet another development, Shrikant Pangarkar, a former member of the Jalna Municipal Council, was detained on Sunday by the CBI following Andure’s interrogation. His home in Jalna was searched by agencies.

 

According to authorities, Andure has alleged that Pangarkar was with him at the time of Dr. Dabholkar’s murder.

 

Earlier in day, the CBI escorted Andure, a resident of Aurangabad’s Kuwarphalli area and produced him before the court of judicial magistrate first class, A. S. Mujumdar a little after noon amid robust police deployment. 

 

Arguing for a 14-day CBI custody, Special Public Prosecutor Vijaykumar Dhakane submitted before the court that as Andure was the main shooter, the agency would need more time to determine how and from whom had he obtained his instruction in firearms and what became of the weapon and the motorbike that was used during the crime.

 

Advocate Dhakane further submitted that Dr. Virendra Tawde, the ENT specialist and radical Hindutva activist had masterminded the crime and that besides Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, two others were involved in the murder.

 

Counsel for the defence, advocate Prakash Salsingikar, argued that Andure’s arrest was a clear case of political pressure on the probe agencies.

 

“The CBI, in its September 2016 charge sheet against Dr. Tawde has already named Sanatan Sanstha activists Vinay Pawar and Sarang Akolkar as the assailants. So, where does the possibility of Sachin Andure as the principal shooter arise?” said advocate Salsingikar.

Andure’s name cropped up during the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad’s (ATS) interrogation of Sharad Kalaskar. 

 

The ATS had arrested Kalaskar along with fringe rightwing activist Vaibhav Raut from Nallasopara in Mumbai, and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from Pune on August 10, for allegedly planning disruptive activities in several parts of the State.

 

According to the ATS, Kalaskar and Andure have confessed to being the motorcycle-borne assailants who had gunned down Dr. Dabholkar on August 20, 2013 during his morning stroll on the Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune.

 

“Even if it is rather late in the day, it is still a step in the right direction. If the probe agencies and the police had taken cognizance of our suspicion that Dr. Dabholkar’s murder was part of a pre-meditated conspiracy, then the killings of Communist leader Govind Pansare, scholar M.M. Kalburgi and journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh might have been averted,” said Dr. Hamid Dabholkar, the slain rationalist’s son, speaking to The Hindu.

 

 “Still, this [Andure’s arrest] is an important development and the CBI needs to get to the mastermind of this conspiracy. The probe agency needs to ascertain who are the persons instilling hate among these youth who allegedly pulled the trigger,” said Dr. Hamid Dabholkar.

 

He further said observed that the speedy investigation done by the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Gauri Lankesh case stood in sharp contrast to the slipshod investigation into the Dabholkar and Pansare murders.

 

“The Bombay High Court’s recent pulling up of the agencies for their tardy progress might have spurred them to action,” commented Dr. Hamid Dabholkar.

 

Meanwhile, Andure’s brother, Pravin, and his wife Sheetal, have said that Sachin, who worked in a textile shop, was innocent of the charges and was being made a scapegoat after the Bombay High Court ticked off the CBI for slow progress in the case.

Second major arrest in the case

This is the second major arrest in the case after a gap of more than two years. In June 2016, the CBI effected its first breakthrough by arresting Virendra Tawde, an ENT specialist who was an activist of the radical Hindu Janajagruti Samiti [a splinter of the Goa-based Sanatan Sanstha] from Panvel near Mumbai.

The case has yielded little in terms of concrete results during its protracted five-year investigation by local and central agencies.

Dr. Dabholkar’s kin have continually expressed grave reservations about the sluggish pace of the investigation and State government’s apathetic attitude towards the case.

A repeated request of the Dr. Dabholkar’s kin had been that the CBI ought to base its investigations in Pune where the murder occurred rather than operating from Mumbai.

The Pune police’s investigations in the case have bordered on the downright bizarre after it was revealed that former Pune Police Commissioner Gulabrao Pol had held a séance to summon Dr. Dabholkar’s spirit in order to solve the case.

The CBI, which had taken over the probe from the Pune police in May 2014 on the directions of the Bombay High Court, released fresh sketches of the assailants in June 2015 – nearly 22 months after the crime.

In July 2015, the kin of Dr. Dabholkar requested the Bombay High Court to monitor the CBI probe while questioning the agency’s ‘seriousness’ about the investigation.

In May 2016, the Court rapped the CBI for its shoddy investigation into the case, prompting the agency to make fresh searches in Panvel and Pune.

Following Tawde’s arrest by the agency in June 2016, there was speculation that the actual execution may have been carried out by the two absconding Sanatan Sanstha activists Sarang Akolkar and Rudra Patil, who have been on the lam since the 2009 Goa blast.

From the scrutiny of Dr. Tawde’s e-mail and call records, it emerged that he had allegedly masterminded Dr. Dabholkar’s murder.

The CBI probe further determined that Tawde nurtured a virulent hatred towards both Dr. Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, disrupting their public addresses in Kolhapur.

Following the CBI’s quizzing, Tawde was handed over to the SIT in June 2016 to be grilled for his specific role in Mr. Pansare’s murder owing to the strong linkages among in the murders of both rationalists and the modi operandi of the killers.

Mr. Pansare, and his wife Uma, were similarly shot at close range from two 7.65-mm country-made weapons while they were returning from their morning stroll outside their home in Kolhapur town.

Likewise, the murder of scholar-rationalist Kalburgi outside his home in Dharwad in Karnataka and that of journalist Lankesh in Bengaluru fuelled speculation on part of activists that the killings were part of a pre-planned fundamentalist, right-wing Hindutva conspiracy.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 10:29:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/dabholkar-murder-pune-court-remands-key-suspect-to-cbi-custody-till-august-26/article24730264.ece

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