Updated: August 14, 2021 7:25:29 am
With the eighth death anniversary of Dr Narendra Dabholkar days away, his son Hamid and members of his organisation Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) have questioned the government as to why the masterminds behind the rationalist’s murder were still at large.
Dabholkar was shot dead by two men while he was on a morning walk on the V R Shinde bridge near Omkareshwar temple in Pune on August 20, 2013. He was 67.
During a press conference in Pune on Friday, Hamid Dabholkar and other MANS activists including Milind Deshmukh, Nandini Jadhav and Shripal Lalwani said eight years have passed and while investigators have managed to arrest a few persons for Dabholkar’s murder, the masterminds have still not been arrested. “We ask the government when are the masterminds going to be arrested,” said Hamid.
The first arrests in Dabholkar murder case made by Pune City Police were of Manish Nagori, an alleged firearms dealer, and his aide Vilas Khandelwal in January 2014. After a few months, both were released on bail by the court and they were never chargesheeted in the case.
In June 2014, the CBI took over the Dabholkar murder probe following an order by the Bombay High Court. Based on a witness statement made by Hindutva activist Sanjay Sadvilkar, the CBI arrested ENT surgeon Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, who was linked to the radical outfit Sanatan Sanstha, on June 10, 2016. CBI said that Tawade was one of the masterminds behind the murder conspiracy. Prior to the arrest, Tawade was arrested by Maharashtra Police for the murder of Govind Pansare, who was shot at near his residence in Kolhapur in February 2015, and succumbed to his injuries days later.
The CBI claimed that “long standing enmity/ hatred” against Dabholka and MANS by the Sanatan Sanstha was the motive behind the murder.
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. But in August 2018, CBI arrested Hindutva activists Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar and contradicting its earlier claim, the agency told the court that these two men were the shooters who had opened fire at Dabholkar.
In May 2019, CBI arrested Mumbai-based Sanatan Sanstha lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar and his aide Vikram Bhave in connection with the case. Both are currently out on bail. CBI also arrested three others — Amol Kale, Amit Digwekar and Rajesh Bangera – who, along with Kalasakar, are also accused in the 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru. The accused were booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
“The CBI has not yet filed a chargesheet against … Kale, Digwekar and Bangera. The masterminds behind the murder are still not known…. CBI should find and arrest the key conspirators of the murder,” said Hamid.
Meanwhile, the MANS has planned a series of programmes to mark the eighth death anniversary of Dabholkar on August 20.
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