A man arrested by the Maharashtra ATS and accused by the CBI of being one of two persons involved in the shooting of Maharashtra rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune in 2013 was on Thursday placed under arrest by a Karnataka police SIT for the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru in 2017. Sharad Kalaskar, 25, was produced in the court of the principal sessions judge in Bengaluru on a body warrant by the SIT. He was remanded in 20 days’ police custody under provisions of the Karnataka Control of Organized Crime Act, 2000.
Kalaskar was named as accused number 16 in the Lankesh case by the SIT on September 12 after probe revealed that he played a key role in the handling of guns used for the murder — especially after the murder was committed.
The SIT’s investigations have revealed that two guns that were brought to Bengaluru for the murder were entrusted to Kalaskar after the murder by Sudhanva Gondhalekar, a Satara businessman, who picked up the guns from a hideout used by a supervisory team of Hindutva extremists that monitored the execution of the murder by trained shooters.
A lathe machine operator by profession, Kalaskar is alleged to have been involved in making guns in the aftermath of the Lankesh murder at a lathe facility in Belagavi region of Karnataka. Sources said Kalaskar, who lived in Belagavi and worked in a fabrication company between 2015 and 2017, was asked in late 2017 to make guns for a secretive group by Amol Kale, a former convenor of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) in Pune and a key accused in the Dabholkar and Lankesh murders. Kalaskar is alleged to have made five country-made guns for the group.
On August 11, the ATS, following the arrest of Kalaskar and two others, reported the finding of “11 country-made pistols with magazines, one airgun, 10 pistol barrels, six pistol magazines, six partially made pistol bodies, three partially made magazines, seven partially made pistol slides, several partially made parts of firearms”. A second seizure of five country-made pistols and three incomplete pistols was reported on August 13. This suggested that some of the persons arrested by ATS were involved in illegal manufacture or assembly of firearms.