Dabholkar murder: CBI sends third reminder to Scotland Yard for forensic tests

Ballistics expert needs UK Home Office nod to test bullets, cartridges removed from sites where three rationalists were gunned down: Officials

Written by Rashmi Rajput | Mumbai | Published:October 25, 2016 9:07 am
Narendra Dabholkar, Dabholkar murder, rationalist murder, CBI, Scotland Yard, Pune news, India news, latest news, Indian express Dr Narendra Dabholkar. File

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar’s murder has sent a third reminder to the British High Commission in connection with the forensic tests that it wants the New Scotland Yard Police to conduct. The tests will ascertain if Dabholkar and two other rationalists — CPI leader Govind Pansare and Karnataka-based MM Kalburgi — were murdered using the same weapon. According to sources, while the central agency has already spoken to Dr Robert Steele, the ballistics expert with the forensic department of the New Scotland Yard Police, the tests will commence only once the Home Office in London gives the go-ahead.

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“A senior CBI officer who had been to Britain while investigating another case had met Dr Steele earlier this year and even discussed the said case with him but Dr Steele can start the tests only once the Home Office, which is the central authority in UK, gives the permission to do so,” a senior official privy to the details of the case told The Indian Express.

According to the sources, the CBI first wrote to the British High Commission on September 16 this year and has since sent two reminders. However, it is yet to hear from London on this.

Once the approval comes through, the sources said, a CBI official would travel to Britain with the bullets and cartridges recovered from the murder site of the three slain rationalists so as to submit them to the judicial department, which would subsequently hand them over to the Scotland Yard police.

“We have collected the cartridges and the bullets recovered by the local police following the murder. These will be examined by Dr Steele who will opine if the three murders are connected or not,” explained the official.

Conflicting reports by the forensic science laboratories (FSLs) in Mumbai and Bengaluru had led to the CBI seeking an opinion from the foreign agency.

“The Maharashtra police arrested two Mumbra-based arms dealers within hours after the anti-superstition crusader was gunned down in Pune. The Mumbai FSL provided a report stating that the same ‘country-made pistol’ was used in the killings of Dr 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 used in Dabholkar murder and one in Kalburgi case,” said the official. “The report from Scotland Yard will help us get a clear picture and even probe if the initial arrests in the case were ‘orchestrated’,” added the official.

Lawyer Questioned

The CBI, which has commenced its second leg of the probe in the Dabholkar murder case, has recently questioned lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar. “Immediately after the arrest of Dr Virendra Tawde in June this year, Punalekar held a press conference claiming that being a lawyer he was in touch with wanted Sanatan Sanstha members Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar. His statement has been recorded,” said an official. Punalekar could not be reached for a comment.