Having unearthed forensic evidence suggesting that the same set of firearms were used in the murders of Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and Maharashtra rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, the Karnataka CID has reconstituted its investigation team in the Kalburgi case in an effort to expand its probe.
The new team comprising 22 police officers will look at the Kalburgi case in the context of the emergence of links between the guns used. “We have some leads in the case and we are revisiting the case in its entirety in light of the new evidence,” a Karnataka CID source involved with the expanded investigations said.
Looking for more commonalities among the three murders, investigators are revisiting cell phone data for the three murders and details of people who stayed at certain hotels in the twin cities of Hubli and Dharwad in the period leading to Kalburgi’s murder. In two of the three cities where the murders took place, a common mobile phone device has been found to be active with different SIM cards around the time of the murders.
Dabholkar, 69, was shot dead in Pune in 2013 with four bullets from a 7.65mm country-made pistol. Pansare, 81, and his wife Uma were shot in Kolhapur in 2015 with five bullets from two 7.65mm country-made guns. Kalburgi, 76, was murdered in his living room in Dharwad, shot in the head with two bullets from a 7.65mm country-made pistol.
Given the similar modus operandi, the Karnataka CID had approached the courts and obtained evidence like the empty cartridges and bullets found at the two murder sites in Maharashtra and compared these with the evidence in the Kalburgi case.
A forensic technique known as ballistic fingerprinting revealed that a common set of two 7.65mm country-made pistols had been used in the three murders. The matching of the weapons has led investigators to believe that one common group using two guns carried out the three murders. “There is a clear match between the empty cartridges and even the bullets that were recovered from the bodies of the three victims,” a police source in Karnataka said.
The similarities in the weapons had not emerged in the course of investigations by a Maharashtra special investigation team and the CBI into the murders of Pansare and Dhabolkar respectively.
The Bombay High Court on January 7 directed Maharashtra’s director general of police and the CBI director to obtain a copy of the Karnataka ballistic report indicating a link among the three murders through the Karnataka DGP. The counsel for the SIT and the CBI told the court that the Karnataka CID had not provided a copy of the report although it had been sought through letters dated as far back as December 8. The counsel said further investigations could be done speedily if Karnataka provided the reports.
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