The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, on Wednesday filed a supplementary chargesheet against two of the accused, Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, naming them as the shooters who opened fire on the anti-superstition activist on the morning of August 20, 2013.
CBI sources have said that the chargesheet filed on Wednesday includes statements of witnesses corroborating the agency’s theory that Andure and Kalaskar were the shooters, and also includes evidence gathered from the subsequent probe. The chargesheet was filed in the Special Court of Additional Sessions Judge Kishor D Vadane by Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Suryavanshi.
Till now, the CBI has arrested six persons in the case, five of them in August and September last year.
Both Andure and Kalaskar are from Aurangabad. Kalaskar was first arrested in August last year by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad in connection with the Nallasopara arms and explosives haul case.
During past hearings, CBI officials have said that it was Kalaskar who first opened the fire and shot Dabholkar twice. Andure then pulled the trigger twice, but one bullet misfired and another hit Dabholkar, they said.
On November 17 last year, the court had granted a 45-day extension to the agency for filing a supplementary chargesheet in the case, considering the provisions under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which was invoked against all the accused. As per its provisions, the stipulated time period for filing a chargesheet in UAPA cases is 90 days after the date of arrest, following which the investigating agency can seek a 90-day extension. The CBI, which was earlier supposed to file a chargesheet on November 18 last year, has received a 45-day extension twice, which would have lapsed on February 16.
The CBI has also arrested three others — Amol Kale, Amit Digwekar and Rajesh Bangera — who are also accused in the murder of Bengaluru-based journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, who was killed outside her residence in September 2017. On December 14 last year, a court had granted bail to Kale, Digwekar and Bangera on account of the agency’s failure to file a chargesheet in 90 days after the arrest and seek an extension. Though they have been granted bail in Dabholkar case, the three accused remain in judicial custody over the Lankesh case. The CBI is slated to file its chargesheet against them.
In September 2016, the CBI had filed the first chargesheet against ENT surgeon and Sanatan Sanstha member Dr Virendra Tawde, who had been arrested in June that year. While the CBI has claimed that Tawde was the mastermind of the conspiracy to kill Dabholkar, it has said that five arrested last year have links to either the Sanatan Sanstha or its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.
The Indian Express has reported in the past about the contradiction in the claims the CBI made in 2016, and those made after the arrest of the five accused in 2018. In the chargesheet filed by the CBI against Tawde in September 2016, the agency had given details of alleged email conversations between Tawde and Sarang Akolkar, another member of Sanatan Sanstha, who is wanted in the 2009 Goa bomb blast case. In the chargesheet, the CBI had named Akolkar and one Vinay Pawar as the two suspected shooters of Dabholkar. The contradiction between the two claims of the CBI is now being used as defence by the lawyers of Andure and Kalaskar.