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Lawyer, Right-wing Activist Sent to CBI Custody for 'Destruction of Proof' in Dabholkar Murder Case

Narendra Dabholkar , an anti-superstition activist, was shot dead while he was out on morning walk in Pune on August 20, 2013.

Chaitanya Mangure | CNN-News18

Updated:May 26, 2019, 5:59 PM IST
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Lawyer, Right-wing Activist Sent to CBI Custody for 'Destruction of Proof' in Dabholkar Murder Case
File pic of CBI headquarters. (PTI Photo)

Pune: A Pune court on Sunday sent a lawyer and a right-wing activist arrested for allegedly helping in destruction of evidence in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case to CBI custody till June 1.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar and Vikram Bhave, a member of the Sanatan Sanstha, in Mumbai on Saturday.

Punalekar and Bhave were produced before the Pune-based court of Additional Sessions Judge SN Sonawane, who remanded them to the agency's custody till June 1 after hearing the arguments of the prosecution and the defence.

Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist, was shot dead while he was out on morning walk in Pune on August 20, 2013.

A preliminary probe has revealed that Punalekar and Bhave had links with the two alleged killers of Dabholkar. They had also helped in destruction of evidence. Bhave had also helped the shooters obtain motorcycles and later destroy them.

The CBI told the court on Sunday that Punalekar had allegedly asked Sharad Kalaskar, one of the shooters arrested in the case, to destroy the weapons used in the killing of Dabholkar and journalist Gauri Lankesh. Bhave was also present when Kalskar met Punalekar.

CBI advocate Prakash Suryavanshi said that as per the instructions given by Punalekar, Kalaksar destroyed four country-made pistols and threw the parts in Thane creek while on way to Nalasopara from Pune on July 23, 2018.

Bhave had allegedly assisted the shooters and conducted a reconnaissance of the spot, where Dabholkar was shot at.

Punalekar told the court, "Sharad Kalaskar's statement in which he mentioned of meeting me was recorded in October 2018 to Karnataka SIT, whereas I have been arrested on Saturday, almost 7 months after that statement. The entire case diary is against Sharad Kalaskar and I have been representing him from August 10, 2018. There is no case made out against me."

Virendra Ichalkaranjikar, representing Bhave told the court that CBI had no evidence against him. Ichalkaranjikar said, "Two chargesheets have been filed in the Dabholkar murder case. one mentions Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as shooters, whereas the other mentioning the statement of Sharad Kalaskar was filed on 13 February 2018. There is no mention of Vikram Bhave in the chargesheet. Vikram has been questioned by the CBI in September 2018. The CBI also conducted his inquiry 2 days before his arrest. There is no CCTV footage or call records to prove the involvement of Vikram in the case."

Bhave, a convict in the 2008 Gadkari Rangayatan blast case, was out on bail when Dabholkar was murdered.After his release on bail, he had penned a book in Marathi, titled "Malegaon Sphotamagil Adrushya Haat" (The invisible hand behind the Malegaon blast).

It is suspected that it was Bhave who had identified Dabholkar to the shooters, a CBI official said on Saturday.

Punalekar and his organisation Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad have been representing the accused linked to right wing organisations in several criminal cases, like the Malegaon blast and Dabholkar, Pansare and Lankesh murder cases.

So far, six people, including Sanatan Sanstha member and ENT surgeon Virendrasinh Tawde, Sachin Andure and Kalaskar, have been arrested by the CBI in the case.

The central agency had earlier claimed that Tawde was the "mastermind" of the conspiracy to kill Dabholkar and veteran Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and rationalist Govind Pansare. Pansare was killed in Kolhapur, Maharashtra in February, 2015.

The CBI had claimed that Andure and Kalaskar had shot Dabholkar dead.

The agency has also arrested Rajesh Bangera, Amol Kale and Amit Digvekar in connection with the alleged conspiracy.

Bangera and Kale are also accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.

Lankesh was shot dead in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017.

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