IN a big setback to investigators, a sessions court in Kolhapur on Tuesday granted bail to Sanatan Sanstha member Dr Virendra Tawade in the case pertaining to the murder of veteran Communist leader Govind Pansare, who was shot dead in February 2015.
Calling it a failure of the investigators, Pansare’s daughter-in-law Megha said the bail order was a sign that the state government and agencies are not serious about the case.
Despite being granted bail, Tawade (49), an ENT surgeon, will not be released from prison as he is still in custody in connection with the murder case of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar.
On February 16, 2015, two persons opened fire at Pansare and his wife Uma near their home in Kolhapur while they were returning home from morning walk. Pansare succumbed in the course of treatment on February 20, while Uma, who had received a bullet injury, survived. The incident bore striking similarities with the murder of Dabholkar, who was shot dead in Pune while he was out on a morning walk by two men on a bike in 2013.
The SIT probing the Pansare murder case arrested Sanatan Sanstha member Sameer Vishnu Gaikwad in September 2015. The investigators said Gaikwad was arrested following his purported telephonic conversations with a woman and two others associated with the Sanstha, regarding the murder. Gaikwad was granted bail in June 2017.
In August 2016, the SIT took custody of Dr Tawade, who was arrested by the CBI in connection with the Dabholkar murder. The SIT filed a supplementary chargesheet against Tawade, naming him the prime conspirator along with absconding accused Vinay Pawar, who is missing since 2009, and Sarang Akolkar, also named in the October 2009 Goa blast case.
Dr Tawade’s advocate Virendra Ichalkaranjikar said, “Among the key points we presented to court while arguing for bail was the delay by the SIT in commencing the trial. Having filed the chargesheet in November 2016, the SIT has not started the trial till now. There are serious contradictions in the two statements by Uma Pansare and also in the statements by other witnesses. The serious contradictions in the firearms theory in Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi murder is a gaping hole in the probe. The court has granted bail to Dr Tawade on conditions of depositing the passport and not visiting Kolhapur for reasons other than trial.”
Megha Pansare, daughter-in-law of Pansare, said, “It is the failure of the investigators that Tawade, the key conspirator in the case, was granted bail. It shows that the government and investigating agency is not serious about the case. There are accused who have been declared absconding, while those arrested are being granted bail. The government must appeal against Tawade’s bail in the High Court.”