Mumbai: The CBI has arrested Sanjeev Punalekar, a lawyer of the right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha,and his assistant Vikram Bhave in connection with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, according to official sources.
Dabholkar, 67, who was chief of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), was shot dead by two gunmen on August 20, 2013, while on a morning walk near the Omkareshwar temple in Pune.
During the investigation, Punalekar was found to be involved with shooter Sharad Kalaskar who was arrested earlier in the case, CBI sources said.
“Kalaskar in his statement to the investigating agency said that Punalekar advised Kalaskar to destroy the weapons used for the murder,” a CBI official said.
Bhave, who was arrested by the CBI with Punalekar, was involved in assisting the shooters. Punalekar was questioned in the past in connection with the case.
Bhave, who is also an RTI activist, was convicted by a sessions court earlier in a 2008 bomb blast case in Thane and Navi Mumbai. He was later granted bail.
In 2016, CBI had made its first breakthrough in the case, almost three years after the murder, with the arrest of Virendra Tawde. Tawde, western commander of the Hindu Janajagurti Samiti, an offshoot of the Sanstha, is allegedly the prime conspirator and mastermind behind the murder of Dabholkar.
Tawde is also an accused in the murder of Communist leader Govind Pansare in 2015.
Last year, Kalaskar and Sachin Andure were arrested in the Dabholkar case.
However, Sansathan Sastha, in its statement, has claimed foul play in the arrests.
"Several nationalist Hindu social organisations along with groups of advocates have condemned the arrest and support the lawyer who has been arrested," it said.