THE SPECIAL Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Govind Pansare murder case is likely to file chargesheet against Dr Virendra Tawde of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), an offshoot of right wing group Sanatan Sanstha, by Thursday.
According to sources, based on the statement given by Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Pansare’s wife Uma, the SIT has identified two members of Sanatan Sanstha as the assailants. This is the first time Uma Pansare has identified the men. She was with Pansare when the assailants attacked them in Kolhapur on February 16. A bullet hit Uma in the head, causing a fracture in her skull. She survived but suffered a paralysis. Shot with a 7.65 mm firearm, Pansare died four days later on February 20.
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“While in her previous statements Uma was not able to confirm the identity of the assailants through the sketches shown to her, this time around she identified the two assailants who shot Pansare through their photographs,” said a senior police official who did not wish to be named. The SIT will name Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as wanted accused in the case.
This is the second murder case in which Tawde, an ENT specialist and alleged western region commander of HJS, has been identified as the “key conspirator”. In September this year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had chargesheeted Tawde in the murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar who was shot dead in Pune. In that case too, the central agency had named Akolkar and Pawar as the wanted accused. Akolkar is also wanted in the 2009 Goa blast case.
While the agency will state that the murder was a handiwork of the Sanathan Santhan, it has so far no direct evidence to link the right wing outfit’s founder hypnotist Jayant Balaji Athavale to the case. “During the course of the probe, the SIT had also recovered around 20 boxes of psychotropic drugs that were allegedly used for controlling the minds of the hardline Hindu outfit’s sadhaks. However, there is no direct evidence to show that Athavale sanctioned the killing,” explained the officer.
The SIT had also recovered a Tempo Trax registered in the name of Tawde. The police suspect the vehicle was used while carrying out reconnaissance before murdering Pansare. While the vehicle was registered in his name, Tawde had given it to the Sanatan Sanstha. It was recovered from the outfit’s ashram in Panvel.
In December 2014, according to sources, Tawade took his black motorcycle to Kolhapur and stayed at a Sanatan Sanstha sevak’s residence, located a few kilometres from Pansare’s office, to carry out reconnaissance. “We have evidence to show that Tawde had travelled to Kolhapur and stayed at a Sanatan Sanstha seeker’s home in Kolhapur, which is just a few kilometres away from Pansare’s residence just two month’s before his murder. We suspect that Tawde undertook this travel to conduct a reconnaissance,” said the official, adding, “A witness has told the SIT that other than Tawde even the assailants had stayed at his place.”
On February 16, 2015, two motorcycle-borne persons shot at Pansare and his wife around 9 am when the couple was on a walk near their residence in Ideal Society, Sagarmal, in Kolhapur. Like in the Dabholkar murder case, the SIT is likely to mention “ideological differences” as the motive behind Pansare’s murder too. “In order to ascertain this point, the SIT has attached the statements of the witnesses. One of the witnesses has told the agency that Tawde had an angry exchange of words with Pansare at a seminar held at Kolhapur’s Shivaji University weeks before his murder,” the official added.