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Dabholkar Case: ‘Arrested Duo Not Cooperating,’ Says CBI

Punalekar, reportedly an office-bearer of the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad represented some of the accused in the case.

Published
India
3 min read
Narendra Dabholkar was assassinated on 20 August 2013.
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The CBI on Saturday, 1 June, told a special court in Pune that advocate Sanjeev Punalekar and his assistant Vikram Bhave, who were arrested in connection with rationalist Narendra Dabholkar’s murder in 2013, were not cooperating with it in the investigation.

On the CBI’s request seeking 14-day custody for both the accused, additional sessions court judge AV Rotte extended their remand till 4 June.

Punalekar, reportedly an office-bearer of the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad, had represented some of the accused in the murder case.

The CBI also said that Punalekar had asked Sharad Kalaskar, one of the alleged shooters of Dabholkar, to destroy the weapons while Bhave had helped them in reconnaissance before the crime.

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Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Prakash Suryawanshi told the court on Saturday that Punalekar and Bhave are not cooperating with investigators, and that more time is needed to interrogate them.

"A mobile phone, two laptops belonging to Punalekar have been seized and the data from the mobile is being analysed. Punalekar's interrogation is needed for further investigation," said Suryawanshi.

Punalekhar Has Links with ‘Sanatan Sanstha’: SSP

Punalekar is not only an advocate but he is also associated with Sanatan Sanstha, he said, adding that the advocate had conspired with the other accused in the case, including those who have been named in the charge sheet.

The Sanstha is a right-wing organisation which is accused of preaching an orthodox form of 'Sanatan' (ancient) dharma or religion.

"Punalekar has not acted as an advocate but he has crossed his limits by advising one of the shooters to destroy the weapon," Suryawanshi said.

He also told the court that they have conducted Forensic Psychology Analysis and Forensic Statement Analysis tests on Punalekar, whose results are awaited.

On Bhave, Suryawanshi said the accused is a convict in the 2008 Thane bomb blast case.

He said Bhave is also not cooperating during investigation.

"The vehicle used in the commission of crime (assassinating Dabholkar) has not been recovered yet, and since Bhave is not cooperating with the investigation, information about the vehicle is still not been revealed," he told the court.

‘Status Report’ in Bombay HC May Contain Grounds for Extension of Custody

The CBI also mentioned a "status report," submitted earlier in the Bombay High court, which Suryawanshi said provides a substantial ground for extending the custody of the duo.

So far, six people, including Sanatan Sanstha member and ENT surgeon Virendrasinh Tawde, and alleged shooters Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, have been arrested by the CBI in the Dabholkar case.

Punalekar's counsel Subhash Jha said even if the communication between Kalaskar and Punalekar is assumed to be true, it was a "privilege communication" between a lawyer and a client.

“A confession statement given by Kalaskar to Karnataka Police in some other case cannot be a base to arrest my client in the present case.”
Subhash Jha, Sanjeev Punalekar’s Counsel

He said the present case against Punalekar revolves only around the advised given by Punalekar to Kalaskar.

"So the offence does not travel beyond 201 of IPC (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence) which is a bailable offence," argued Jha.

Bhave's lawyer Ghanshyam Upadhyay questioned the progress report of the CBI arguing that the investigation agency has not come out with any incriminating material against the former since his arrest on May 25.

"There is no development in the case and now to get the further custody, the CBI is citing reasons that the accused is not cooperating," he said.

Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist, was shot dead while on morning walk in Pune on August 20, 2013.

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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