Shrikant Pangarkar, 42, who was arrested last month by the Maharashtra ATS in a terrorism case, was produced in the court of the principal sessions judge in Bengaluru by a Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka police and remanded in the custody of the SIT for 12 days.
Pangarkar was named as accused in the Lankesh murder case on September 12 by the SIT. The SIT named him as as accused number 15, and Sharad Kalaskar, 25, a suspect in the murder of Maharashtra rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, as accused number 16. Pangarkar, who is reportedly identified as “Praji” in a diary belonging to key suspect Amol Kale, 37, was closely associated with Kale, a former Pune convenor of HJS, who is accused of creating a group of assassins out of youths from fringe Hindutva groups. Phone logs for Pangarkar reveal over 1,000 calls in a year with Kale, SIT sources said.
Investigations by the SIT since the arrest of a Maharashtra man, Sudhanva Gondhalekar, last month has revealed that Pangarkar was present at conspiracy meetings of the group leading up to the murder of Lankesh.
Pangarkar, who has posted a lot of material put out by HJS on his social media profile, is a founding member of the secretive group linked to the Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate, HJS, sources said.
The former Jalna councillor is suspected to have travelled to parts of Madhya Pradesh in the aftermath of the Lankesh murder to procure country-made guns for the secret group since two guns used by the group was identified as being common to four murders in two states.