Virendra Tawade, the doctor arrested by the CBI in Panvel, near Mumbai, on Friday in connection with the 2013 murder of activist Narendra Dabholkar, had apparently stayed in Kolhapur for six years before carrying out his Hindutva agenda in Satara.
And Kolhapur is where the murders of Dabholkar and fellow activist Govind Pansare have a common ground, Hamid Dabholkar, the slain activist’s son, indicated. Tawade, Hamid said, had spoken against Pansare as well during his stay in Kolhapur.
Hamid told The Indian Express on Sunday that Tawade was “strongly opposed” to anti-superstition campaigns of his father in Satara. But, before that, he had spoken against Dabholkar at a function in Kolhapur as well, as the CBI, too, told the court on Saturday, he said.
Pansare, a CPI leader and rationalist, was killed in Kolhapur on February 20, 2015. Dabholkar was killed on August 20, 2013.
Hamid said Tawade was based in Satara for two years and worked for Sanatan Sanstha, a pro-Hindutva outfit. “Anti-superstition activists who worked with my father have told me that Tawade stayed in Satara from 2006 to 2008. During this time, he was not practising medicine but working for the Hindu outfit,” he said.
Hamid was present, along with other anti-superstition activists, at Shivajinagar court on Saturday when Tawade was sent to CBI custody until June 16.
According to Hamid, anti-superstition activists have told him that Tawade “strongly opposed” a campaign for environment-friendly Ganesh festival that his father had launched. “The campaign included donating Ganesh idols instead of immersing them in Krishna river in Satara. Tawade used to be present on the ghats of the Krishna and told my father and other activists on several occasions that an environment-friendly Ganesh festival was against Hindu religion, and that they should not promote it,” he said.
Stating that he was not aware whether Tawade had warned or threatened his father, Hamid said, “But, yes, he and other members of his outfit strongly opposed my father’s Ganesh festival campaign in Satara.”
Satara is the hometown of the Dabholkars.
Hamid said it also came to light in court on Saturday that Tawade and Sarang Akolkar, an alleged Sanatan Sanstha member who is an absconder in the 2009 Goa blast case, had exchanged emails. Akolkar’s photo, he said, matches with the sketch released by police in the Dabholkar murder case.
Akolkar reportedly lived close to the spot where Narendra Dabholkar was killed in Pune. Hamid alleged that all this indicates the involvement of Tawade, Akolkar and three other absconders in the murder of the rationalist, besides hinting at a larger conspiracy.
“Tawade seems to be one of the conspirators in the case. Whether he had planned it all, or whether he was actually involved in firing at my father, is a matter of deeper investigation,” he said. Hamid added that the murder was meticulously planned and involved several persons.
According to Hamid, had the National Investigation Agency, probing the Goa blast, arrested the four absconders, the activists Dabholkar, Pansare and M M Kulburgi would not have been murdered.
The Sanatan Sanstha, meanwhile, said that Tawade was innocent. “The CBI has taken steps to incriminate the Sanstha by arresting Tawade (but) Tawade is innocent,” the organisation said in a release. “He visits the Sanatan Ashram in Panvel (near Mumbai) to perform his spiritual practice. Prior to 2007, he was actively involved with the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, but later, due to family commitments, he continued his spiritual practice while continuing household duties.”