The Special Investigation Team is busy questioning Parshuram Waghmare, arrested in connection with the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. Megha Pansare — daughter of slain senior CPI leader and rationalist Govind Pansare — tells The Indian Express that the SIT should focus its energy on nabbing the alleged assailants, Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar.
What is the latest you have heard from the Maharashtra SIT in the Gauri Lankesh murder case?
A Maharashtra SIT team had gone to Bengaluru to interrogate Parshuram Waghmare, arrested in connection with the Gauri Lankesh murder case. We are yet to hear from the SIT as to what he has revealed. So far, it has come to light that a common weapon was used in the murders of Pansare, Lankesh as well as rationalist M M Kalburgi.
One of the witnesses in the Pansare case has reportedly said he would identify Waghmare.
Yes, I have also heard that the witness is ready to identify Waghmare in an identification parade. Earlier, the witness had identified Pawar through his photograph. Pawar and Akolkar are said to be the ones who actually shot my father as well as rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.
Has the witness seen them from close quarters?
Yes, the witness has told the SIT that Pawar and Akolkar had approached him for some recce-related work. Later, they had asked him to make a pistol for them, as the witness had a wielding and metal processing shop.
If Vinay Pawar and Sarang Akolkar are the real shooters, what do you think is the role of Virendra Tawde and Sameer Gaikwad?
Both are the masterminds. The SIT has recovered their email exchanges and phone calls, from which it becomes clear that they were the masterminds behind the operations. Gaikwad’s name came up in the first chargesheet filed in the sessions court, while Tawde’s name came up in the second chargesheet.
There is another key witness in the case?
Yes, he is a school-going child who has told the SIT that he had seen Gaikwad on the spot, when my father was shot at. As soon as he went to school, he reportedly narrated the incident to his teacher. In this case, the SIT has said Akolkar had shot at Pansare. So both Pawar and Akolkar are the actual shooters.
Why is the SIT not able to catch them?
Pawar and Akolkar’s names cropped up in 2009 Madgaon blast. Since then, both of them are absconding. In fact, Pawar has been acquitted in the case, based on a small technical issue. The problem with SIT is that the head, who is an additional Superintendent of Police, keeps changing every one year or so. In the last four to five years, there have been at least five additional SPs. Therefore, every time a head is changed, the new chief comes in and before he gets a grip on the situation, he is transferred. This goes on… and the SIT keeps sitting on the case in the process.
What is your latest demand?
Besides arrests of Pawar and Akolkar, we have been demanding that the masterminds in these cases should be exposed. The real masterminds are the Hindutva organisations. They have formed a group of 60 people from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa and other parts of the country to target activists and intellectuals who do not agree with their radical views.