CBI arrests Dabholkar’s killer in Pune

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Aug 2018 08:24:05



THE Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on late Saturday evening arrested one of the two gunmen who killed Maharashtra rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, official sources said here. “Sachin Prakashrao Andure of Aurangabad is one of the two persons who shot at (Dr) Dabholkar. Further investigations are underway,” a CBI official said.

The arrest comes just two days before the 5th death anniversary of Dabholkar, 67, who was shot dead while on a morning walk near his Pune home on August 20, 2013.The tip-off for the arrest came from the Maharashtra
Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), Thane, which had arrested three persons in a different case of explosives seizure.
During custodial interrogation, one of these three made the sensational revelation that he and another person (Andure) were directly involved in the Dabholkar killing which hit national headlines.

The Thane ATS alerted the CBI of the development, which in turn summoned Andure and confirmed the information given by his accomplice. The CBI arrested Andure during late evening hours in Pune. Dabholkar, a well-known rationalist and anti-superstition activist who founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), was shot and killed by two motorcycle-borne assailants near Omkareshwar Temple in Pune.

The case was initially investigated by the Deccan police, but following a furore, it was transferred to the CBI in May 2014, with the agency increasing the reward money on the killers from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 25 lakh. Shortly after Dabholkar’s murder, the State enacted the country’s first legislation against superstition and black magic. The activist was posthumously conferred the Padma Shri in 2014.Since then, the All Indian Peoples Science Network (AIPSN) and others observe his death anniversary (August 20) as “National Scientific Temper Day” to create awareness against superstitions.

Police custody of three Right wing accused extended: A court in Mumbai extended till August 28 the police custody of three suspected members of a Right-wing group who were arrested last week for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to carry out blasts in Maharashtra. As per prima facie evidence produced before the court, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is applicable, hence the probe can not be curtailed, special UAPA Judge Vinod Padalkar said while granting further remand on Saturday.

Vaibhav Raut (40), who runs a cow protection outfit, was arrested by the ATS of police on August 10 from Nallasopara near Mumbai. It was followed by arrests of Sharad Kalaskar (25) from Palghar district and Sudhanva Gondhalekar (39) from Pune. Besides, the ATS has seized explosives and arms and ammunition, some documents, letters and chits from Nallasopara and Pune on the basis of the information given by the accused, it said.

Alleging that the trio were planning to carry out blasts in the State ahead of I-Day and Bakri-Eid festival, the ATS had said it would also probe if they had any connection with the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare and journalist Gauri Lankesh.

These letters, chits, documents, mobile phone messages, data from a laptop, hard disks contain code words and code language which the ATS wanted to decipher, it said. The accused had also erased some data from the seized mobile phones, laptop and hard disks, and the ATS wanted to retrieve it, it said. The ATS had recovered CCTV footage of Parvati area of Pune where Gondhalekar’s graphics design shop is located and this CCTV footage was being scrutinised, it said. Defence lawyers argued that there was no need for further police (ATS) custody as examination of seized evidence was the job of forensic experts. While the ATS wanted a 15-day extension, the court extended the police remand of the accused till August 28.