The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Maharashtra Police, probing the 2015 murder of Communist leader Govind Pansare, has taken custody of Sharad Kalaskar, who has earlier been made accused in murders of Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh.
The name of Kalaskar (26) — who according to the investigators is a Sanatan Sanstha sympathiser — first came up in the investigation of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) into the Nallasopara arms haul case in August last year. He was then arrested in Dabholkar murder case and subsequently in the murder of Bengaluru-based journalist Gauri Lankesh. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the Dabholkar case, has claimed that Kalaskar and Sachin Andure had allegedly shot at Dabholkar.
An officer from the SIT probing Pansare case told The Indian Express: “Kalaskar was taken into our custody from Mumbai, in the early hours of Tuesday and produced before the court in Kolhapur in the afternoon. The court has remanded him to our custody till June 18. He is the seventh person to be arrested and ninth person to have been named as accused in the case till now.”
Advocate Sameer Patwardhan, who represented Kalaskar in the court, said: “The SIT has claimed that Kalaskar had come to Kolhapur four to five days before the murder of Pansare. They have also said that Kalaskar has played a role in the destruction of the firearms used in the case. We opposed his custody, questioning the very basis of these allegations.”
Pansare and his wife Uma were shot at by two bike-borne assailants on the morning of February 16, 2015, not far from his house. Pansare had succumbed to his injuries four days later. While Dabholkar was murdered in Pune on August 20, 2013, Lankesh was shot dead at her house on September 5, 2017.
In February this year, the SIT had submitted a 400-page supplementary chargesheet against the four accused — Amol Arvind Kale, Vasudeo Bhagwan Suryvanshi, Bharat Jayant Kurne and Amit Ramchandra Digwekar. Of these, Kale and Digwekar have also been arraigned in Dabholkar case.
The first chargesheet in Pansare case was filed against Sameer Gaikwad and ENT surgeon Virendra Tawade, both Sanatan Sanstha members. Besides the two, the SIT had named Vinay Pawar and Sarang Akolkar, both currently absconding, as accused in Pansare case. Tawade has been named as the key conspirator in both Dabholkar and Pansare case.