3 Years On, ‘Lack of Political Will to Catch Pansare’s Killers’

On 16 February 2015, CPI leader Govind Pansare went on a morning walk. What followed next left his family horrified

3 min read

On 16 February 2015, CPI leader Govind Pansare went on a morning walk with his wife, Uma, near their house in Kolhapur. What followed next left his family horrified and the country shocked. Two unknown gunmen pulled up next to the couple in their two-wheeler, and in the pretext of asking for an address, shot the elderly couple multiple times.

For Pansare’s daughter-in-law, that fateful morning is as clear as if it happened today.

I will never forget that moment when someone shouted in front of our house that they have been shot. Me and my sons rushed outside and comrade Pansare and his wife were lying at the roadside in a pool of blood. We were shocked but I took my car and took them to the hospital. It has been very painful for me to see an 82-year-old man who spent his life serving the society, meet an end like this.
Megha Pansare, Govind Pansare’s daughter-in-law

Multiple surgeries for the next four days couldn’t save Govind Pansare. He breathed his last in the hospital on February 20, 2015. His wife, Uma, survived the attack but was left partially paralysed and is still recovering.

However, three years later, the family is far from receiving justice.

At least six months after the murder, police arrested Sameer Gaikwad, who was found to have connections with right-wing outfit Sanathan Sanstha. In June 2016, Virendra Tawde, the alleged mastermind of the case, was arrested. Both, however, have received bail and the two key accused – Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar – are still absconding.

Many months passed, nothing happened and then we had to approach the Bombay High Court. We were expecting that the High Court monitoring would accelerate the investigation some way or the other, but that also didn’t happen. I remember a witness had given a statement saying that he had approached the Special Investigation Team (SIT) but the SIT didn’t take notice of him. The SIT didn’t consider him serious and therefore nothing was done. That was shocking for us. 
Megha Pansare

The Pansare family is hesitant to begin trial unless the police traces the accused and finds concrete evidence in the case. To ensure a thorough probe, Megha has even met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis multiple times, requesting him to assign a dedicated SIT to investigate the case.

I think it was necessary to appoint a few efficient police officers who can concentrate on this case for some time, then there could have been some progress. Most of the officers end up getting transferred or promoted after their term. I don’t think it is impossible for the state government to appoint a special team; there is a lack of political will on their part and that’s why it’s not being done. Such a simple demand could have been fulfilled by the government.
Megha Pansare

Govind Pansare’s murder was not an isolated case. On 20 August 2013, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in the same manner in Pune. Just six months after Pansare’s death, professor MM Kalburgi was shot dead at his home. On September 2017, senior Bengaluru-based journalist Gauri Lankesh was murdered in a similar manner on the steps of her home.

Had the NIA worked properly, and the group involved in Margao bomb blast case got punishment, I think all these lives would have been saved. Because the police investigation says that the same group is involved in these cases. In the Dabholkar case also, nothing was done. If we want to save our people, then criminals should be arrested.
Megha Pansare

For the Pansare family, the fight for justice is still far from over.

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