September 27, 2015 1:09:17 am
In a show of solidarity with slain communist leader Govind Pansare’s family, 302 lawyers came forward and expressed support for the family and willingness to argue the case in their favour. Most of the lawyers were member of the Kolhapur Bar Association and had decided not to defend Sanatan Sanstha worker Sameer Gaikwad arrested in the Pansare murder case on September 16. Gaikwad was produced before a court in Kolhapur after his police remand ended.
On Wednesday, the Sanatan Sanstha had come up with 31 lawyers from different parts of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka to fight Gaekwad’s case. Lawyers supporting Pansare decided to give a “befitting reply” and so 302 lawyers filed “vakalatnama” for the Pansare family before a magistrate court in Kolhapur today. About 35 lawyers were present in courtroom.
Advocate Vivek Ghadge, president of the Kolhapur Bar Association, led the arguments. Regular lawyers of Sanatan Sanstha including advocate Sanjeev Punalekar were not present in court. A group of about five lawyers including advocate M M Suhase of Sangli Bar Association defended Gaikwad. The arguments went on for about 50 minutes.
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Special Public Prosecutor Chandrakant Budhle demanded extension of police custody of Gaikwad by four days. Budhle said the forensic science lab (FSL) in Pune had given a report that voice samples of Gaikwad and his friend Jyoti Kamble matched with recordings of their telephonic conversations. But the report of voice layer analysis from experts in Gujarat is awaited.
Budhle said police questioned Sanatan Sanstha workers Sumit Khamankar, Jaykumar Prajapati and Shraddha Pawar, associated with Gaikwad. Sumit’s statement was recorded before the court. Prajapati is learnt to have given a few cell phones to Gaikwad for repair. Some conversations of Gaikwad with Jyoti and others are suspicious. SIM cards recovered from Gaikwad were active in different parts of the state, including Kolhapur. So further custodial interrogation is required, he said.
Advocate Suhase said police are not able to produce any evidence of Gaikwad’s involvement in the murder case. He said police mentioned similar reasons for seeking extension of custody. “Police had said Gaikwad was in Thane and wanted to investigate. It is laughable that cops have still not been able to probe his Thane visits….,” said Suhase.
Judicial Magistrate (first class) V B Patil remanded Gaikwad to police custody for two more days. Earlier, when he was produced before the court on Wednesday, the prosecutor had said that a “psychological evaluation” by experts revealed that he is “deceptive”.
The prosecution submitted that Gaikwad told police he had spoken about Pansare’s murder “jokingly” over phone. However, the content of the conversion is “serious” and it’s hard to believe he was merely joking. Police recovered two cellphones from him when he was arrested and 23 more from his house along with 31 SIM cards, a weapon, and Sanatan Sanstha material. One of his SIM cards is believed to have been active in Kolhapur the day Pansare was killed.
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