A sessions court in Pune on Sunday remanded lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar and his aide Vikram Bhave, who were arrested in Dabholkar murder case on Saturday, to the CBI custody till June 1.
Punalekar and Bhave, who were arrested by the CBI on Saturday, taking the total number of arrests in the case to eight, were produced before the court in Pune on Sunday. Dabholkar (67), was shot dead by two assailants in the morning of August 20 in 2013.
Punalekar, an office bearer of the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad, a lawyers’ body, was active in providing legal support to several Sanatan Sanstha members and other Hindutva activists accused in several other cases. He had not only been representing some of the accused in Dabholkar murder case but also was regularly seen on TV channels and quoted in news media representing the side of the accused.
Bhave, a Sanatan Sanstha member, is a convict in the case of blasts on the premises of some theatres and auditorium in Thane in 2008, who was later released on bail by the Bombay High Court in 2013. Bhave had been assisting Punalekar in his legal work, sources said.
CBI special prosecutor Prakash Suryavanshi argued in the court that the police custody of Punalekar was needed to probe into the theory that he had given directions to alleged shooter Kalaskar for the destruction of firearm used in the crime and also to probe his role in the overall conspiracy. He pressed for Bhave’s custody arguing that he had helped shooters in conducting a recce of the area where Dabholkar was shot dead and a probe on how he helped the shooters in disposing of the bike used in the crime was needed.
In June 2016, the CBI had first arrested ENT surgeon and Sanatan Sanstha member Dr Virendra Tawde, as the alleged mastermind of the conspiracy to kill Dabholkar. In a chargesheet against Tawade in September 2016, CBI had mentioned that Sanatan Sanstha activists Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar were the two who shot Dabholkar.
But in 2018, the CBI claimed that not Pawar and Akolkar but the arrested accused Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar were the ones who opened fire at Dabholkar.