Suspect in Dabholkar Murder Remanded to CBI Custody Till 10 Sept
Narendra Dabholkar (L) and Gauri Lankesh. 
Narendra Dabholkar (L) and Gauri Lankesh. (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Suspect in Dabholkar Murder Remanded to CBI Custody Till 10 Sept

Sharad Kalakskar, an alleged shooter in the Dabholkar murder case, was granted Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody till 10 September, by a Pune court, on Wednesday, 5 September.

Earlier, on 26 August, the CBI had claimed before a court in Pune that the killings of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru last year and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013 were “linked”.

Seeking extension of the custody of Sachin Andure, one of the alleged shooters in the Dabholkar murder case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had told the court that one of the accused in the Lankesh murder case had handed over a pistol and three bullets with a magazine.

However, according to the remand copy, the get-away vehicle and firearm are yet to be recovered. The weapon which was recovered earlier, its forensic report is yet to be out. Only the report will establish if it was the same weapon, which is why this point of weapon is added in remand.

Also Read : Irrational Wait for Justice: The Unsolved Murder of Dr Dabholkar

Dabholkar, a Pune-based anti-superstition activist, was shot dead while he was on morning walk in August, 2013. Lankesh was shot dead in front of her residence in Bengaluru in September, 2017.

Kalaskar was among the five persons arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) earlier this month in connection with the seizure of crude bombs and firearms from various parts of the state.

He added that the CBI would also seek the custody of those arrested by the Karnataka SIT in the Lankesh murder case as some of them were "linked" to the Dabholkar case and connected to Andure.

During Andure’s interrogation, it was revealed that one of the accused in the Lankesh murder case had handed over a 7.65 mm country-made pistol and three bullets to him and he had passed those over to his brother-in-law, Shubham Surale, at Aurangabad (Maharashtra) on 11 August.
Vijaykumar Dhakane before the Court

Surale had passed on the pistol to one Rohit Rege, according to the prosecutor.

The CBI had seized a black-coloured country-made pistol with a magazine and three 7.65 mm "live cartridges" (bullets) from Rege's Aurangabad residence, Dhakane said, adding that the agency was probing if the weapon was used to kill Dabholkar.

The CBI was also trying to trace the motorcycle used by Andure and Kalaskar on 20 August 2013, the day they allegedly killed Dabholkar, he said.

‘New Theory Every Time’, Says Defence

Opposing the extension of Andure's custody, defence counsel Prakash Salsingikar had cited a chargesheet filed by the CBI in 2016 in the Dabholkar murder case.

In the chargesheet, the central agency had named Virendrasinh Tawde of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), an alleged offshoot of right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha, as the conspirator in the killing of Dabholkar.

It had identified Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as the assailants, who had fired bullets at Dabholkar.

Also Read : Various Hindu Group Members Colluded: SIT on Gauri Lankesh Murder

Quoting certain paragraphs from the chargesheet, Salsingikar had said,

The investigation has established through oral and documentary evidence that Tawde, who harboured an enmity with Dabholkar owing to the ideological differences between the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti and the Sanatan Sanstha, criminally conspired with Pawar, Akolkar and others to murder Dabholkar.
Defence Counsel Prakash Salsingikar

“In pursuance of the said conspiracy, Pawar and Akolkar shot dead Dabholkar on 20 August 2013 on the Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune.”

The defence counsel had told the court that the CBI was trying to bring in a new theory every time as far as the probe into the Dabholkar murder case was concerned.

As per the chargesheet, the CBI had already identified the assailants in the Dabholkar case.
Prakash Salsingikar to PTI

The Other Accused

Meanwhile, a CBI officer had told PTI outside the court that they were awaiting the ballistic report of the pistol seized from Rege's residence.

He had said it would be premature to say whether the pistol was used to kill Dabholkar.

Apart from Kalaskar, the ATS had arrested Vaibhav Raut (40), Sudhanwa Gondhalekar (39), Shrikant Pangarkar and Avinash Pawar (30) in the arms seizure case from various parts of the state.

The Bombay High Court has remanded Pangarkar’s custody to the ATS till 6 September. While Raut and Gandhlekar, have been sent to judicial custody for 14 days.

While Raut ran a little-known pro-cow protection outfit, Gondhalekar and Kalaskar are allegedly linked to fringe Hindutva groups.

Pangarkar is a former Shiv Sena corporator who hails from Jalna.

Avinash Pawar was remanded to two days police custody. The prosecution, arguing for his custody, had pointed out that Pawar's location was traced to Ghatkpoar, Belgaum and Pune between Januar 2017 and December 2018.

His involvement with the other accused has been established by the fact that he came into possession of the operational SIM cards used by Sudhanva Gangdekar and Vaibhav Raut before him. A diary had also been found in his locker and has been decoded.

Five mobiles were also recovered from Avinash Pawar, some of which did not have SIM cards. Mirror image of his mobile data and CPU have been recieved and the ATS is assessing data for information.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)

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