THE probe into the murder of Pune-based rationalist Narendra Dabholkar has revealed that the two alleged shooters, Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, were given weapons training in a jungle near Aurangabad. Arms training was allegedly imparted to them by two other accused, Amol Kale and Rajesh Bangera, arrested in the case, sources said.
According to the sources, the probe has also revealed that the accused were planning to set up an arms factory in Belgaum, Karnataka. Both Kale and Bangera have also been arrested by the Karnataka SIT for their role in the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh.
“The plan to eliminate Dabholkar was hatched in 2009 after the mastermind, Virendra Tawde, received an email from his handler. Following this, Tawde along with associate Kale started scouting for youths who could be trained and persuaded to carry out the murder. Andure and Kalaskar, both from Aurangabad, were regulars at various programmes and protest marches organised by the Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. Kale approached the duo and after they agreed to be a part of their plan, they were imparted training in a jungle near Aurangabad,” said an official.
“Bangera was also roped in by Tawde and Kale for giving training to two other shooters. The training lasted around a fortnight. Since the area is under thick forest cover, gunshots are difficult to hear. The place acted as a suitable makeshift training ground,” the official added.
After receiving the forensic report from the Gujarat FSL on a firearm seized from the Aurangabad residence of Andure’s relative, investigators suspect the said weapon was used during this training. “We suspect this weapon was used for training imparted in Aurangabad,” an official said.
Meanwhile, officials believe that an earlier disclosure on setting up an arms factory and raising an army of sevaks, which the CBI had stumbled upon while decoding secret email exchanges between Tawde and another absconding Sanatan Sanstha member Sarang Akolkar, may hold some substance. Investigators are probing if the arrested accused and other members of the outfit wanted in other cases and those absconding were indeed planning to set up a factory in Belgaum, a district bordering Karnataka and Maharashtra.