AGENCIES probing the sensational murders of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar (65) in Pune and veteran Communist leader Govind Pansare (84) in Kolhapur are closely watching the developments in the M M Kalburgi (78) murder probe in Dharwad, Karnataka.
Officials in the investigation teams said while there was no evidence as of now to prove the links between all three murders, there were prime facie striking similarities between all three killings.
A police team from Maharashtra has reached Karnataka to understand the developments in Kalburgi murder probe.
Sanjay Kumar, additional director general of police (CID), who is heading the special investigation team (SIT) probing the Govind Pansare murder case, told The Indian Express, “Some police officers from Kolhapur have gone to Karnataka for verifying the facts in Kalburgi murder case.”
Sources said teams probing Dabholkar and Pansare murders were likely to share investigation details like sketches of suspects and other information with the Karnataka police.
It will also be probed whether killings of Kaburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare are part of any larger conspiracy to eliminate rationalist leaders.
Dabholkar was shot dead by two unidentified persons on the Omkareshwar bridge near Balgandharva auditorium in Pune, while he was on a morning walk, around 7.15 am on August 20, 2013. The assailants fled on a two-wheeler.
Founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), Dabholkar also the editor of Sadhana magazine. He used to travel across the state and country for his anti-superstition campaign and faced severe opposition from right-wing Hindutva outfits.
Investigation teams have so far questioned hundreds of people including underworld gangsters, black magicians, self-styled Godmen, traders of gems and stones, astrologers, bogus doctors, activists of Hindu outfits like Sanatan Sanstha, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) who were strongly opposing Dabholkar and the anti-superstition bill proposed by MANS. The case is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has released sketches of suspects based on description give by eyewitnesses. But the kingpins have not been identified yet. Sources said the CBI team was also watching the Kalburgi murder probe.
On February 16, 2015, two motorcycle-borne men had shot at Pansare and his wife Uma Pansare while they were on a morning walk near their residence in Ideal society, Sagarmal in Kolhapur, around 9 am. A bullet hit Uma’s head, causing a fracture in her skull. She survived but suffered from paralysis. Govind Pansare succumbed to his injuries on February 20. Pansare was also known for taking a stand against right-wing Hindutva groups.
The police questioned several activists from right-wing Hindutva groups, but no arrests have been made so far. An assailant is also suspected to have used abusive words for Pansare before opening fire at him.
In the case of Kalburgi, who was killed around 8.40 am on Sunday at his residence in the small town of Dharward, assailants were two and remain unidentified. One of them waited on a motorcycle while the other went up to ring the doorbell of Kaburgi’s house. Kalburgi’s wife opened the door. The assailant claimed he was Kalburgi’s student. When Kalburgi came, the assailant opened fire at him and fled with his accomplice on motorcycle.
Hindutva groups had opposed Kalburgi for his stand against idol worship.
Officials said that clearly in all three murders, veteran rationalists of older age opposed by Hindutva groups have been targeted by two men in morning hours.
Raghunath Kamble, general secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI), Kolhapur unit, said, “Pansare and Kalburgi knew each other, though they never led any movement or agitation together. A pattern is clearly observed in murders of Kalburgi, Pansare and Dabholkar. It is sad that murderers of Pansare and Dabholkar are still not known and a third killing has taken place in Karnataka.”