The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, will soon take custody of one of the accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, to investigate the links between the perpetrators in the two cases.
Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist, was murdered in Pune on August 20, 2013, by two men on a motorcycle while he was on his morning walk. Lankesh, a Bengaluru-based journalist, was shot dead at her house on September 5 last year.
The agency made the statement before a magistrate court in Pune, where Sachin Andure (30), one of the two alleged shooters in the Dabholkar murder, was produced on Sunday. Andure, who was arrested by the CBI on August 18, was produced in court after the completion of his custodial remand of seven days.
The court of Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) H R Jadhav remanded him to CBI custody till August 30.
During the hearing, the agency told the court that an accused in the Lankesh case had handed over a pistol to Andure, and the agency had recently recovered it from Aurangabad.
In its plea for extension of Andure’s custody, the CBI said, “During interrogation of Andure, it is revealed that one of the arrested accused in Gauri Lankesh murder case handed over one 7.65 mm country-made pistol and three bullets to Andure. Further, Andure has passed this pistol and three bullets with magazine on August 11, 2018 to his brother-in-law Shubham Surale in Aurangabad. When Andure was being interrogated by CBI, Surale passed the pistol, bullets and magazine to his friend Rohit Reghe. When CBI conducted search at Reghe’s house, one black coloured country made pistol (metal) with magazine and three 7.65 mm live cartridges of make KF were seized.”
The agency didn’t specify the date on which the accused in the Lankesh case had allegedly handed over the pistol to Andure. Agency officials said ballastic analysis of the weapon and the bullets used in the murders would reveal more information about the firearms used in the crimes.
The plea further stated, “The CBI is trying to trace the motorcycle used in the offence by Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, another shooter in the case. Kalaskar is presently in the custody of Maharashtra ATS, and CBI is going to take his custody from August 28, on the strength of the production warrant issued by JMFC court in Pune. Andure and Kalaskar both have to be investigated and confronted during CBI custody. CBI is also in the process of taking custody of an accused in Gauri Lankesh case. He is in judicial custody in Karnataka. Some of the accused of the Gauri Lankesh case are linked to Sachin Andure and Dr Dabholkar murder case, and more custody of Andure is necessary for investigation.”
Opposing CBI’s plea for extension of Andure’s custody, his lawyer Prakash Salsingikar cited the agency’s earlier chargesheet against Sanatan Sanstha member Dr Virendra Tawde, in connection with the Dabholkar case, in which Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar were named as the shooters.
“The CBI is trying to create confusion in the investigation. They are deliberately not referring to the chargesheet. Also, there has not been any progress in the probe by the CBI,” said Salsingikar.
He also filed an application for contempt of court proceedings against the investigating officer in Dabholkar case, claiming he had not been allowed to meet Andure at any time, despite the court’s earlier order. The court sought the prosecution’s response on the contempt application.
After the proceedings, the defence lawyer also sought the court’s permission to tie a ‘rakhi’ to Andure on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan. After the judge granted permission, a relative tied a rakhi to Andure, sent by his sister.