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Govind Pansare murder: Kolhapur court extends police custody of suspect Sharad Kalaskar till June 24

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Special Investigation Team has uncovered vital information regarding his involvement in the crime

Pune: A local court in Kolhapur on Tuesday extended the police custody of Sharad Kalaskar, named by agencies to be one of the shooters of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, till June 24 in connection with the 2015 murder of senior Communist leader and writer Govind Pansare.

Government prosecutor Shivajirao Rane, along with case investigating officer Tirupati Kakade, Additional Superintendent of Police, urged the court that Kalaskar’s custody be extended for a week as the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Maharashtra police probing the Pansare murder had uncovered vital information regarding his involvement in the crime.

“The SIT has obtained crucial information on Kalaskar’s role in the crime. He has confessed that there was another accomplice with him in Kolhapur as part of the conspiracy to murder Communist leader Pansare [on February 16, 2015]. While the accused has described that person to us, he has not revealed his name as yet. Furthermore, we believe that he [Kalaskar] was tasked with destroying the murder weapon,” advocate Rane said.

He further submitted that Kalaskar, along with other suspects, had obtained instructions in firearms in neighbouring Belagavi district in Karnataka and that the accused had brought the weapon (that was eventually used for the murder) into Maharashtra.

“The SIT also needs additional time to take the accused to a city outside Maharashtra to determine his precise role in the case. His mobile records and diaries also need to be examined in greater detail,” Mr. Rane said, arguing for a seven-day extension of Kalaskar’s custody.

After hearing the arguments, Judge S.S. Raul granted extension of Kalaskar’s custody.

The SIT, which had secured Kalaskar’s custody from the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), is investigating his precise role in the conspiracy hatched in Belagavi and Kolhapur to murder the veteran Communist leader.

The Mumbai ATS had first arrested Kalaskar — a native of Aurangabad district — along with fringe right-wing activist Vaibhav Raut from Nallasopara in Mumbai and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from Pune on August 10 last year for allegedly planning disruptive activities in several parts of the State.

Probe agencies have alleged that Kalaskar was an expert in arms manufacturing and was part of the wider conspiracy that links the murders of other rationalist activists and journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead in Bengaluru.

Pansare, along with wife Uma, was repeatedly shot at close range by motorcycle-borne assailants while returning from a morning stroll in Kolhapur’s Sagar Mal locality in February 2015. While Ms. Pansare survived the murderous attack with serious injuries, her husband succumbed to his wounds in Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital on February 20 that year.

A total of nine people have been named in Pansare’s murder so far, including Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, two absconding activists of the Sanatan Sanstha, who the agencies earlier alleged to have carried out the actual shooting of Pansare.

In June 2017, a Kolhapur court, after three rejections, had finally granted conditional bail to Sanatan Sanstha activist Sameer Gaikwad, who was picked up from Sangli district in western Maharashtra in September 2015 — the first arrest in the Pansare case.

In January last year, the Kolhapur sessions court had granted conditional bail to radical Hindutva activist and ENT specialist Virendra Tawde — named as the ‘mastermind’ in Dabholkar’s murder — in connection with his suspected role in the killing of the veteran Communist leader.

According to probe agencies, Tawde is a crucial link to the murders of both Pansare and Dabholkar. The SIT’s supplementary charge sheet even names Tawde as the ‘mastermind’ in the Pansare murder, suspecting him of conducting the reconnaissance before the murder.

Then in November last year, Amol Kale, a key accused in the murder of Lankesh, was arrested by the SIT in connection with the murder of Pansare. Amit Degwekar, another co-accused in the Lankesh case, also was arrested by the SIT probing the Pansare murder.

Motorcycle-borne assailants had killed Dabholkar on August 20, 2013, with a 7.65-mm country-made pistol when he was taking his morning stroll on the Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune. Pansare and his wife were similarly shot at close range from two 7.65-mm country-made weapons. The same modus operandi was used in the murder of scholar-rationalist M.M. Kalburgi, who was chillingly murdered by two unidentified assailants outside his home in Dharwad in Karnataka.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:44:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/govind-pansare-murder-kolhapur-court-extends-police-custody-of-suspect-sharad-kalaskar-till-june-24/article28057326.ece

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