Sharad Kalaskar, allegedly one of two shooters who killed anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabolkar in Pune in August 2013, was an expert in handling weapons and had been involved in making bombs in the past, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told a Pune court on Tuesday.
The agency made the statement on Tuesday when Kalaskar was produced in court for his custodial remand. The court of Special Judge S M A Sayyed then remanded him to CBI’s custody till September 10.
Kalaskar, a resident of Aurangabad, was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) over the Nallasopara arms and explosives haul case. CBI officials have said Kalaskar, who is in his mid-20s, and Sachin Andure (28) had shot Dabolkar dead while the activist was on his morning walk, on August 20, 2013.Kalaskar had allegedly opened fire first and fired two of the three bullets that hit Dabolkar. Andure pulled the trigger twice but misfired once, while the other bullet hit Dabholkar, said the CBI. The agency had arrested Andure, who is also a resident of Aurangabad, on August 18.
Last week, the CBI had taken custody of two of the accused in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru — Rajesh Bangera and Amit Digwekar — to probe their links with the Dabholkar murder case. Bangera and Digwekar were earlier in the custody of Karnataka Police.
In the agency’s plea for Kalaskar’s custody, CBI prosecutor Vijaykumar Dhakne said, “Sharad Kalaskar is one of the two shooters in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case. He had fired two bullets. He is an expert in weapon handling and has also been involved in making bombs in the past. His custody is crucial for the investigation into the conspiracy. He also has to be interrogated in the custody along with Bangera and Digwekar, whose custody has been granted to CBI.”
Defence lawyer Dharma Raj Chandel, however, argued that the chargesheet filed earlier by the CBI against Sanatan Sanstha member Virendra Tawde “categorically names Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as shooters”.
“During the 14-day police custody of Andure, CBI has not been able to recover the weapon or the vehicle used in the crime. They have just taken Andure to the spot and again reconstructed the scene of the crime. So, there is no progress in the investigation and the CBI is now trying to prejudice the mind of the court. Instead of CBI custody of Kalaskar, magisterial custody should be granted,” said Chandel.
According to the Maharashtra ATS, which is probing the Nallasopara arms and explosives haul case, the names of Andure and Kalaskar had surfaced when the latter had revealed his role in Dabholkar’s murder during interrogation. Kalaskar had also revealed Andure’s alleged involvement in the murder, after which he was arrested by the CBI.
Strongly refuting the ATS’s statement, Chandel told the court on Tuesday that his client had not given a confessional statement about his alleged involvement in the murder, and was not going to give one. “There is always a possibility that the investigating agency makes an accused sign confessions under duress. We have placed on record in court that my client has claimed his innocence and has said all the charges against him are false,” said Chandel.