The family of anti-superstition activist Govind Pansare, who was murdered on February 20, 2015 in Kolhapur, has urged Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to hand over the case to the CBI as they are not happy with the way the Special Investigation Team is conducting the probe.
In a letter to Fadnavis on Thursday, the family wrote, “As you are aware, comrade Govindrao Pansare and his Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis were taking a morning stroll on February 16, 2015. During the stroll, gunshots were fired at them by assailants on a motorcycle. Comrade Govindrao Pansare succumbed to injuries on February 20 in Mumbai. Uma Pansare recovered from the attack but remains under medication and is recuperating at her home.” The letter has been signed by Uma Pansare, wife of the slain rationalist, and Megha Pansare, his daughter-in-law.
“It has already been 16 months to the incidence of the brutal attack on Pansare and his wife. In response to our demand, the government has constituted an SIT to investigate the case. There has been only one arrest of that of Sameer Vishnu Gaikwad since the investigation started. The Pansare family has already moved the High Court and the investigation is being monitored by the honourable High Court in both Pansare and Dr Narendra Dabholkar assassinations,” Megha said.
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The letter said, “We were forced to approach the High Court for monitoring the investigation as the progress of the investigation was very slow. The court considered the petition and kept monitoring the investigation. The court has observed in its order that confidence needs to be given to the families of the deceased and efforts should be taken to carry out a cohesive and coordinated investigation and the investigation agencies should show real and concrete progress in the investigation. The intervention of the court has pushed the investigation agencies to act quickly.”
The family said that initially, the link between the murders of Pansare and Dabholkar was not clear. “However, in the course of investigation, the link between not only the two murders, but also the third murder of MM Kalburgi in Karnataka, can be seen prima facie. As reported by newspapers, one witness kept on giving information to Maharashtra police on which they never acted. The Pansare family has time and again requested the SIT investigating officers to visit the Sanatan Sanstha’s Ashram in Goa, but till date, they have not taken any steps and there is no progress. Hence, we want the case to be transferred to CBI for a better flow of investigation and its progress,” the letter said.
Megha said, “It was expected that the SIT would work hard with transparency and come to a logical conclusion of the investigation. However, it has been observed that the SIT has completely stopped functioning since quite a few months. There have been transfers of a number of high profile police officers like IG Ritesh Kumar, Additional SP Ankit Goyal, SP Manoj Kumar Sharma, and now Additional SP S Chaitanya. Ankit Goyal and S Chaitanya, both additional district superintendents of police, were transferred barely six months after being appointed as the investigating officers in the case. S Chaitanya handed over charge to Suhel Sharma, but he has been on leave since the day he was appointed. In Sharma’s absence, Dinesh Bari is handling the case. Such a sensitive case has been handled by relatively young officers who have been in service for barely three to four years. We are under the impression that the SIT and Maharashtra police are not serious about the investigations.”
Megha further said, “In the recent past, Virendra Tawade, a member of the Sanatan Sanstha, was arrested and presented in Pune court for custody. While seeking his custody, a statement was made by the CBI that there is a direct connection between the murders. The forensic report as per newspapers also show that one weapon has been used in both the murders. Under such circumstances, it would be appropriate to refer the investigation of my father-in-law’s murder case to the CBI.”
“Initially, we opposed handing over the investigation to the CBI, as the facts arising were not within our knowledge. Now, it is crystal clear that the same group of people was involved in both the murders. The scope of the investigation also demands that the investigation agency should visit Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and other places where the alleged involvement of the organisation is apparent. Therefore, in all fairness, the investigation should be handed over to the CBI. Fortunately, the said agency has made a lot of progress and therefore, it is necessary that the investigation should be handed over to CBI,” Megha added.
Megha said that the arrest of Tawade by the CBI in the Dabholkar murder case has prompted them to request the state government with a plea to hand over the case to the CBI, as it is appropriate for the investigation agency to
take over the case so that uniform investigation can be conducted along with the Dabholkar murder case.
“The CBI suspects that the same group of people was involved in the murder of Communist leader Comrade Govind Pansare. In the investigation, it has also appeared that there is a common nexus between the murders of the rationalists as there was a use of similar weapons and a common modus operandi involving members of the Sanatan Sanstha. Hence, we are requesting the transfer of this murder case to CBI,” Megha iterated.
The letter said that investigation by one agency is essential for a transparent, fair and quick conclusion. “The CBI has already made progress in the investigation and is well aware of the facts. Therefore, in the interest of justice, it is necessary to hand over the investigation to the CBI,” the letter said.
Uma Pansare said that as per law in the present circumstances, the investigation can be handed over to CBI either by the state government or the High Court. “We are earnestly requesting you to transfer the investigation and all litigations in respect of the Pansare murder case to the CBI. You have been extending us full cooperation, support and therefore, we are requesting you to transfer the investigation to the CBI. We also request you to depute officers of the Maharashtra government as deputed in the Dabholkar murder case from Kolhapur to assist the CBI,” the letter further said.