The CBI may have found a key evidence in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case – a pistol that had been likely used to kill the rationalist. The weapon recovered from the Arabian Sea by Norwegian deep-sea explorers with the help of technology, has been sent for forensic examination, reported Hindustan Times.
Ballistic experts will now reportedly examine the pistol and compare it with the type of bullet that was mentioned on Dabholkar’s post-mortem report.
“A weapon has been recovered during the search operation, but whether it is related to the crime or not will only be confirmed after the ballistic report from the forensic laboratory.”CBI official to PTI
The exploration is believed to have cost about Rs 7.5 crore and is likely to be jointly borne by the CBI, Maharashtra ATS and the Karnataka police as investigating agencies believe that murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Gauri Lankesh and Govind Pansare were all carried out by the same set of people.
This conclusion was drawn after a ballistic report by a Bangalore Forensic lab suggested that Pansare and Dabholkar were murdered with the same gun. Also, the second weapon that was used to shoot Pansare, a 7.65 mm country made pistol, was also used to gun down Gauri Lankesh and MM Kalburgi.
How the Weapon Was Found
The CBI had earlier claimed in a Pune court that one of the accused shooter, Sharad Kalaskar, dismantled the firearm used in commission of the crime and threw it in a creek in Thane. In August 2019, the investigating agency informed the court that it needed to scour the sea at Kharegaon Creek near Thane to look for the weapon.
The Hindustan Times reported that Dubai-based Envitech Marine Consultants transported its machinery from Norway for the exploration and the CBI even ensured that customs duty worth Rs 95 lakh was waived while bringing in the machinery.
Magnetic sledge was reportedly used to explore the area and several methods like Electronic Distance Measuring, Angle Measurement and Level Measurement were used for the survey.
The Mystery of The Missing Weapon
Advocate Sanjeev Punalekar, one of the accused in the case, who was arrested and is currently on bail, is alleged to have advised accused Sharad Kalaskar to destroy the firearms used in the crime. Punalekar, before his arrest, had represented members of the Sanatan Sanstha and other activists in various cases in courts.
The CBI earlier claimed that during the investigation, it came to light that in June 2018, Kalaskar visited Punalekar’s chamber in Mumbai where he explained his role in the killing of Dabholkar. “Punalekar then told Kalaskar to destroy the firearms used in the killings, including that of journalist Gauri Lankesh (in Bengaluru),” the CBI earlier claimed before the Pune court.
The agency also told the court that on 23 July 2018, Kalaskar dismantled four country-made pistols (by taking out barrels and sliders) and threw them from a bridge in Thane creek while on way to Nallasopara (in adjoining Palghar district) from Pune.
Anti-superstition activist, Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune on 20 August 2013.
(Published with inputs from PTI and Hindustan Times)