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Friday, September 17, 2021

Dabholkar murder: Defence lawyer seeks FSL Gujarat report before arguments on framing of charges

A copy of the report was not given to the accused as per the high court directions, the defence lawyer said, adding that it was important at the time of arguments on framing of charges.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: August 20, 2021 6:18:37 pm
Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, founder president of Maharashtra Andhashrddha Nirmoolan Samiti, during an interaction at Express Office in 2011. (Express File Photo by Sandeep Daundkar)

WHILE THE arguments about framing of charges against those arrested in connection with the murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar was expected to begin before a special court in Pune on Friday, the defence lawyer submitted an application, seeking a report from the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Gujarat, which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed in the Bombay High Court in January 2017.

Advocate Prakash Salsingikar, representing one of the accused in the Dabholkar murder case, said the FSL Gujarat report, submitted by the CBI before the HC, has not been filed before the trial court in Pune.

Salsingikar said a copy of the report was not given to the accused as per the HC directions. He said the report is important at the time of arguments on framing of charges.

Special Judge S R Navandar then asked CBI counsel Prakash Suryawanshi about the FSL Gujarat report. Suryawanshi told the court he would take instructions from the investigating officer about the report and then make the submission. The court then said the arguments on framing of charges would take place on September 3.

Dr Dabholkar, founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), was shot dead by two assailants while he was on a morning walk on the V R Shinde Bridge near Omkareshwar temple in Pune on August 20 morning in 2013. He was 67.

The first arrests in the murder case made by Pune city police were Manish Nagori, an alleged firearms peddler, and his aide Vilas Khandelwal in January 2014. After a few months, both of them were released on bail by the court and were never chargesheeted in the case.

The CBI, which took over the probe from Pune City Police in 2014, has till now chargesheeted five accused, all of them allegedly linked to the radical outfit, Sanatan Sanstha. These include ENT surgeon Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, two alleged assailants, Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, Mumbai-based lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar and his aide Vikram Bhave, arrested between 2016 and 2019. Of these, Tawade, Andure and Kalaskar are in jail while, Punalekar and Bhave are out on bail.

The CBI had arrested Tawade in 2016 and termed him the mastermind behind the murder conspiracy. In its September 2016 chargesheet against Tawade, the agency named absconding Sanatan Sanstha members Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as the two assailants who shot Dabholkar dead. But in August 2018, Andure and Kalaskar were arrested and contradicting its earlier claim, the CBI said they were the shooters. The contradictions in the agency’s claims have time and again been cited by the defence.

In May 2019, the CBI arrested Punalekar and Bhave. Both are out on bail. The CBI has also arrested three others — Amol Kale, Amit Digwekar and Rajesh Bangera – who, along with Kalaskar, are also accused in the 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru. However, Kale, Digwekar and Bangera have not been accused or chargesheeted in the case.

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