THE CENTRAL Bureau of Investigation (CBI) intends to inform the Bombay High Court that it will approach the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for its opinion on the weapons allegedly used in the murders of three rationalists — Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi. This follows the lack of response from the UK on the CBI’s request for ballistic tests on the weapons by Scotland Yard.
Sources have told The Indian Express that senior officials from the central agency have had an informal discussion with FBI investigators on the case.
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“We have sent three reminders to the British High Commission since our first request sent to them in September this year, but we haven’t heard anything from their end,” a senior official from the agency told The Indian Express.
Sources claimed while the central agency has already spoken to Dr Robert Steele, the ballistic expert with the Forensic Department at the New Scotland Yard Police, the tests can commence only once the Home Office in London gives the go-ahead to conduct the tests.
On Wednesday, the central agency has to update the Bombay HC on the status of investigations into the Dabholkar murder case. Sources revealed the agency might seek the court’s permission to approach the FBI.
“The opinion of the foreign agency is necessary to pave the way for the future course of our investigation. The formalities would commence once the court gives directions to that effect,” said a senior official. “We have already discussed the case with FBI sleuths and if we get a go-ahead from the court, a senior official will travel to USA with the cartridges and the bullets recovered by the local police following the murders,” added the official.
The conflicting reports by the Mumbai Forensic Laboratory and the Bengaluru FSL are the reasons behind the central agency seeking an opinion from the foreign agency. Sources in the central agency claimed that while the Bengaluru FSL in its report had said of the two weapons used in the Pansare murder, one cartridge matched with that used in the Dabholkar killing and one with that of the Kalburgi killing, the Mumbai FSL provided a report saying the same ‘country-made pistol’ was used in the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare.
“The Maharashtra Police had arrested two Mumbra-based arms dealers within hours after the anti-superstition crusader was gunned down in Pune. The Mumbai FSL provided a report mentioning that the same ‘country-made pistol’ was used in the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare. If the weapon supplied by the arms dealers was seized by the police and was in the custody of the local court, how can it be used in the murder of Pansare? Also, the Mumbai FSL findings are contradictory to that of the Bengaluru FSL which states that of the two weapons used in the Pansare murder, one cartridge matched with that of Dabholkar and one with M M Kalburgi,” the official explained. “The report from the foreign experts will help us get a clear picture and even probe if the initial arrests in the case were ‘orchestrated’,” the official added.
On June 10, the CBI had arrested ENT specialist Dr Virendra Tawde, an alleged western commander of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), an offshoot of the right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha in connection with the murder of Dabholkar.
In its chargesheet filed in September, the agency also named two more Sanatan Sanstha members — Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar — as assailants in the case. According to the chargesheet, the conspiracy to murder Dabholkar was hatched due to ideological differences between the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), founded by Dabholkar, and HJS.