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CBI chargesheets lawyer Punalekar, Sanatan member Bhave in Dabholkar murder case

Before his arrest, Punalekar had provided legal representation to several Sanatan Sanstha members and other Hindutva activists accused in many other cases

By: Express News Service | Pune | Updated: November 21, 2019 2:59:28 am
Narendra Dabholkar, Narendra Dabholkar murder case, dabholkar murder case cbi, mumbai city news Anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar. (file)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday filed a supplementary chargesheet in the Dr Narendra Dabholkar case against two of the accused — advocate Sanjeev Punalekar and his aide Vikram Bhave — who were arrested in May this year for being part of the conspiracy to kill the anti-superstition activist.

While Punalekar (53), an office bearer of Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad, was granted bail by court in July, Bhave who is a member of Sanatan Sanstha is still in judicial custody.

Besides being part of the overall conspiracy to murder Dr Dabholkar, Punalekar has been accused by the CBI of advising Sharad Kalaskar, one of the two alleged shooters of Dr Dabholkar, on how to dismantle the firearm used in the crime. According to the agency, Kalaskar, who is also an accused in the 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, had followed the lawyer’s advice and dumped four pistols, including the one used to kill Lankesh, in the Thane creek.

Before his arrest, Punalekar had provided legal representation to several Sanatan Sanstha members and other Hindutva activists accused in many other cases. He had not only appeared for some of the accused in Dabholkar murder case but also been seen and quoted in the media defending them.

The CBI has claimed that Bhave (34), played a key role in conspiracy by facilitating the reconnaissance and escape for the shooters. He is a convict in the case of bomb blasts on the premises some theatres and auditorium in Thane in 2008 and was released on bail by the Bombay High Court in 2013. He had been assisting Punalekar in his legal work.

The chargesheet on Wednesday was filed by CBI Additonal SP, SR Singh in the Special Court of additional sessions judge SR Navandar through Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Suryavanshi.

Earlier in February this year, a supplementary chargesheet filed by the CBI against Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar naming them as the shooters who opened fire on the anti-superstition activist on the morning of August 20 in 2013. The total number of people arrested by the CBI in Dabholkar murder murder case is till now eight.

In September 2016, the CBI had filed the first chargesheet against ENT surgeon and Sanatan Sanstha member Dr Virendra Tawde who was arrested in June that year, naming him as the mastermind of the murder. While both Andure and Kalaskar are from Aurangabad, Kalaskar was first arrested in August last year by the ATS in connection with the Nallasopara arms and explosives haul case.

The CBI officials have said in the past hearings that it was Kalaskar who first opened the fire and shot at Dabholkar twice. Andure (28) then pulled the trigger twice, but one bullet was misfired and another hit Dabholkar. The CBI has also arrested three others — Amol Kale, Amit Digwekar and Rajesh Bangera — who are also accused in the murder of Bengaluru-based journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, who was murdered in September 2017. Kale, Digwekar and Bangera have not been chargesheeted yet.

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