CBI arrests Sanatan Sanstha lawyer Sanjiv Punalekar, accomplice Vikram Bhave

Mumbai : NPNews 24 – In a major development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which has arrested right wing organisation members in connection with murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, on Friday arrested Sanatan Sanstha lawyer Sanjiv Punalekar and his accomplice Vikram Bhave.

Officials said that the arrest is based on arrested accused Sharad Kalaskar’s statement about their role in destruction of weapon. Bhave had also shown the spot where Dabholkar was to be shot dead. They will be produced in court on Sunday.

Earlier CBI had termed the murder as terrorist act.

In 2016 the agency had arrested Dr Virendrasinh Tawde of Sanatan Sanstha, and had filed a chargesheet against him in September 2016.

Other accused are Sharad Kalaskar, Sachin Andure, Amol Kale, Rajesh Bangera and Amit Digvekar. Their names had cropped up during investigation by Karnataka police in Gauri Lankesh murder case investigation.

It was 7.30 am on 20th August 2013, the founder of Maharashtra Andhshradha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) Dr Narendra Dabholkar, as usual, was on a morning walk on Vitthal Ramji Shinde bridge between Omkareshwar Temple and Balgamdharv auditorium. Two men on a motorcycle approached him and fired four rounds from close range from a pistol.

Few policemen were on nakabandi duty near the temple but they did not hear any gunshot. A passerby informed them and the cops rushed to check the man lying in a pool of blood. Initially,y they didn’t recognise him and thinking that he was already, the body remained there for about 1 hour. Later they identified him as Dabholkar.

An FIR for murder was registered with Deccan Gymkhana police station, Pune city police, against unidentified persons.The state government had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakhs, while Pune police had announced Rs 1 lakh for information about assailants of Dabholkar. The case was handed over to Pune police Crime Branch.

To investigate the murder, Pune Police had set up 23 investigating teams. The attackers were near the crime scene for about 45 minutes. Police had seized CCTV footages but they were unclear. A man staying in a building opposite the temple had seen the assailants and he had helped cops prepare their sketches but that also didn’t help.

Police investigated all those against whom Dabholkar had made complaints. Police also took the help of retired officers to crack the case. The criminals lodged in various jails in Maharashtra were also questioned but in vain. Pune police had also consulted some astrologers. The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) also started a parallel investigation of the murder case.

On 28th August 2013, Dabholkar’s children Dr Hamid and Mukta Dabholkar met the Commissioner of Police Gulabrao Pol and said that they will not be satisfied till the attacker was arrested.

Since beginning police suspected involvement of right wing Hindu organisation Sanatan Sanstha in Dabholkar’s murder case. One youth from the organisation was detained in Goa by Faraskhana police, but he was released within a few hours.

The CCTV footage collected by Pune police were unclear and they were sent to a forensic lab in London. Meanwhile, Thane police had arrested arms dealer Manish Nagori and Vikas Khandelwal in an arms case. Pune police suspected that the duo might have provided the weapon to Dabholakr’s killers. The duo was arrested in connection with the murder case of a security guard at Pune University. But actually, they wanted to investigate their role in Dabholkar case.

Later the case was transferred to the CBI.