Mumbai: Rationalist and anti-toll activist Govind Pansare died days after being shot at by bike borne assailants in Kolhapur.
Veteran CPI leader Pansare was shot at along with his wife in Kolhapur on February 16 while they were taking a morning walk. After undergoing surgery at a hospital in Kolhapur immediately after the shooting, Pansare was flown here this evening in an air ambulance arranged for by the Maharashtra government.
He was admitted to the Breach Candy hospital, where he succumbed during treatment, an official said.
NCP leader Supriya Sule said, "In Maharashtra, sad incidents are keep on happening. After the death of RR Patil we all started recovering and then we came across this news today. This is sad news for Maharshtra. My condolences for his Family. The case should start its investigation soon."
CPI reacted strongly to its veteran leader's death, with party leader A Abhyankar saying the government should spare no efforts to nab Pansare's killers.
Social activist Baba Adhav said Pansare's killing comes after anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar was killed in Pune one-and-a-half-years back.
On Monday, Pansare, who was at the forefront of a campaign against road toll tax, and his wife Uma were shot at and critically wounded by unknown assailants. The CPI leader had received three gunshot injuries to his neck, armpit and on the right leg near the knee.
Dean of Maharashtra government's JJ Hospital in Mumbai, Dr PP Lahane, told reporters outside Breach Candy Hospital post midnight that Pansare passed away at around 10:45 PM.
"Pansare developed bleeding in the lungs, which led to heart failure and he succumbed at 10.45 PM," Lahane said.
His body will be flown to Kolhapur at 10.30 AM on Saturday for the last rites, he added.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited Breach Candy Hospital on Friday night and paid his last respects to Pansare.
Among other notable leaders to visit the hospital were NCP's Surpiya Sule and RPI's Ramdas Athavale. Fadnavis said, "Maharashtra has lost a brave and valiant leader. Pansare's contribution and fight for upliftment of the poor and downtrodden sections of society will be remembered forever."
Maharashtra BJP President Raosaheb Danve said it was shocking to hear of the tragic news of Pansare's passing away. The CPI leader's contribution for the deprived sections of society will be remembered always, Danve said.
"There was positive news earlier that Pansare's condition was improving, but now this tragic news has come which has shocked us," Danve said.
Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Dhananjay Munde, said it was an "extremely sad" development for a progressive state like Maharashtra.
"The government must find the culprits and bring them to justice as soon as possible," Munde said.
(With inputs from PTI)