May 6, 2022 11:20:00 pm
An activist of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), Prashant Potdar, was examined before a special court in Pune during the ongoing trial into murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar.
Dabholkar was the founder of MANS and was shot dead by two persons on a bridge near Omkareshwar temple in Pune on August 20, 2013. The murder case is being tried in the court of Additional Sessions Judge SR Navandar, which is a Special Court for cases under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Potdar has been associated with MANS since 1991 and was also an office bearer of the organisation. Potdar told CBI’s lawyer Prakash Suryavanshi how Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti opposed Dabholkar’s work.
Potdar was then cross examined by defence lawyer Prakash Salsingikar regarding various complaints filed by MANS. Potdar was a complainant in some of the cases filed over black magic. He was also questioned about administration and financial matters of MANS.
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The next hearing in the case will take place on June 4.
The CBI took over the murder investigation from Pune City Police in 2014 and has chargesheeted five accused, all of them allegedly linked to radical outfit Sanatan Sanstha. The accused include ENT surgeon Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, the two alleged assailants Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, Mumbai-based lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar and his aide Vikram Bhave. Of these, Tawade, Andure, and Kalaskar are currently in jail while Punalekar and Bhave are out on bail. CBI had, in its chargesheet against Tawade in September 2016, named absconding Sanatan Sanstha members Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as two assailants who shot Dabholkar dead. But in August 2018, CBI arrested Andure and Kalaskar and named them as shooters.
On September 15 last year, the special UAPA court had framed charges in the murder case against four of the accused — Tawade, Andure, Kalaskar and Bhave — for murder, conspiracy to commit murder along with Section 16 of the UAPA pertaining to terrorist acts, and various provisions of the Arms Act for the use of firearms. The court charged Punalekar with destruction of evidence in the case. All five accused have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The CBI had, on October 14 last year, submitted before the court a list of 32 witnesses to be examined during the trial.
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