FIVE years after the murder of activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, the question “Who killed Dabholkar?” remains unanswered, as investigative agencies have kept making new revelations, some of them contradictory to each other. Two persons had shot Dabholkar dead on August 20, 2013, around 7.25 pm on V R Shinde bridge in Pune. Earlier, the Pune City Police had arrested illegal firearms dealer Manish Nagori (24) and Vilas Khandelwal (22), on June 20, 2014, in the murder case.
The arrests were on the basis of a ballistic report of firearms seized from the duo when they were arrested by Mumbra police in an extortion case on August 20, 2013, the day Dabholkar was murdered. The report suggested that one of the firearms (seized from Khandelwal) matched with the “markings” on a cartridge seized from the crime scene.
Both Nagori and Khandelwal were later released on bail. Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Sanatan Sanstha seeker Dr Virendrasinh Tawde in the murder case on June 10, 2016. Till now, the CBI has not linked Nagori and Khandelwal to the Dabholkar murder. But, along with Tawde, the CBI has named Vinay Pawar, who is missing since 2009, Sarang Akolkar, who is absconding in the October 2009 Goa blast case, as prime suspects and also alleged that the duo had shot Dabholkar dead.
The CBI had even issued sketches of the two suspects who shot Dabholkar dead. The CBI had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh to any person giving information about suspects, Akolkar and Pawar. A CBI pamphlet carried photographs of Akolkar and Pawar and also stated that the two suspects has shot Dabholkar dead in Pune.
Now, the CBI has arrested Sachin Prakashrao Andure (28) from Aurangabad alleging that he was among those who shot Dabholkar. The CBI also suspects that Andure hatched the murder conspiracy with Tawde, thus raising questions about the role of Akolkar and Pawar in the case. The defence lawyer pointed out these contradictions before the court on Sunday and requested the court to direct the CBI to produce the copy of its chargesheet against Tawde, which stated that Akolkar and Pawar had shot Dabholkar dead.
Asked about this contradiction, senior CBI official claimed: “Please read the chargesheet. We have never said Vinay Pawar and Akolkar were shooters, but have said persons looking like them are suspected to be behind the killing. So, there is no contradiction in our theory. Further probe in the case will bring out more details about the conspiracy.”
But, in the charge-sheet filed against Tawde on September 8, 2016, which is accessed by The Indian Express, the CBI had stated: “… the investigation has established through oral and documentary evidences that Dr Virendrasinh Tawade who harbored enimity/hatred with Dr. Narendra Dabholkar owing to the ideological differences between Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (ANIS) and Sanatan Sanstha, criminally conspired with Vinay Pawar and Sarang Akolkar and others to murder Dr. Dabholkar and in pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy, Vinay Pawar and Sarang Akolkar shot dead Dr. Dabholkar on August 20, 2013 at about 7.25 am at Pune.”
In the chargesheet, the CBI also gave details of the alleged email conversation between Tawade and Akolkar, against whom a Red Corner Notice had been issued by the Interpol in July 2012. “One email dates April 20, 2009, from Sarang Akolkar to Tawde mentions about availability of country made arms (Deshi banavatiche sahitya) in UP and MP. It also mentioned about foreign made arms (Pardeshi sahitya) availability in Assam. Here coded language has been used. It is also mentioned in email about raising of army of 15000 persons for financial the procurement of firearms (Sahitya), even theft could be committed, in case of need,” the charge sheet stated.
A statement given by a Hindutva activist, Sanjay Sadvilkar, from Kolhapur, a witness in the case, helped the CBI in the probe. The CBI claims that even after Akolkar went absconding, Tawde’s association with him continued. According to the CBI, Tawde and Akolkar had a meeting with Sanjay Sadvilkar from Kolhapur in 2013. Tawade wanted to manufacture weapons with Sadvilkar’s help. “Akolkar had for this purpose brought samples of one country made pistol and one country made revolver of high quality,” it is stated. Sanatan Sanstha calls Sadvilkar a “bogus” witness.
Andure’s name had cropped up during the interrogation of three Hindutva activists — Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar and Sudhanva Gondhalekar — arrested by the ATS on August 10, along with recovery of about 20 crude bombs, pistols, magazines and explosive material from Nallasopara and Pune.
The ATS arrested the trio following clues obtained from the Karnataka police investigation into the Gauri Lankesh murder case.