Five years after the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, the CBI and Maharashtra ATS on Saturday claimed to have made a breakthrough with the arrest of one of the two alleged shooters involved in the killing of the Pune-based rationalist.
“Sachin Prakasrao Andure of Aurangabad was arrested in the Dabholkar murder case. He was allegedly one of the shooters who fired at Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Investigation is continuing,” the CBI said in a press release. According to sources, information leading to the arrest came from the interrogation of Sharad Kalaskar, arrested by the ATS last week with two other members of radical Hindu outfits for allegedly planning to carry out attacks in five cities in Maharashtra.
A senior ATS official said Kalaskar told his interrogators that he had played an active role in Dabholkar’s murder. He reportedly claimed that he and Andure were the shooters. “The duo also arranged for the motorcycle used in the murder of the rationalist. Andure was summoned and, after he confessed to the crime, he was handed over to the CBI,” said the ATS official. Sources said the CBI would seek Kalaskar’s custody later.
The arrest comes days after the Bombay High Court pulled up the CBI and the SIT probing the murder of CPI leader Govind Pansare for the shoddy investigation into the murders of Dabholkar and Pansare. Dabholkar was shot outside his Pune residence on August 20, 2013, by two assailants on a motorcycle. A murder case was registered by the Pune police, and the investigation was handed over to the CBI in May 2014.
On June 10, 2016, CBI arrested ENT specialist Dr Virendra Tawde, an alleged commander of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), which is an offshoot of the Sanatan Sanstha, in connection with Dabholkar’s killing. In a chargesheet filed in September 2016, the agency named two Sanatan Sanstha members, Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, as the assailants. According to the chargesheet, the conspiracy to murder Dabholkar was hatched because of ideological differences between the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), founded by Dabholkar, and the HJS.
Sources said Andure’s arrest has now indicated that the shooters may not have been Akolkar and Pawar. The murder weapon and the motorcycle are yet to be recovered. “We have been informed about the arrest but the details are not known. We just want to say that the all the conspirators behind the crime should be arrested. We believe that the monitoring of the probe by the high court has helped the case,” said Dabholkar’s son, Hamid.
Meanwhile, Sanjeev Punalekar, the lawyer who represented Sanatan Sanstha members in the Dabholkar case earlier, said: “As of now, I do not know whether this person named Andure is a member of the Sanatan Sanstha. His arrest raises serious questions about the past arrests. In its earlier chargesheet, CBI said Akolkar and Pawar are the two assailants. Now this third name has come up… If the earlier arrests are wrong, who is responsible for the wrongful arrests.”