NEW DELHI: The CBI will seek Scotland Yard’s expertise to ascertain whether a single firearm was used to kill three rationalists, allegedly by a radical Hindu group opposed to their scientific dissection of faith and religion.
The agency spokesperson confirmed the move on Friday.
Though the country’s top investigation agency is probing only the 2013 murder of Narendra Dabholkar, the subsequent killing of Govind Pansare in Maharashtra and MM Kalburgi in Karnataka have come under its scanner because of the similarities in the three crimes.
Right-wing Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha, active in the two states, has emerged as the prime suspect in the three cases. A suspected activist of the organisation was charged by Maharashtra Police last year in the Pansare case. The organisation denies the charges.
Used shells of 7.65mm calibre firearm were recovered from the sites where two of the three scholars were shot dead in almost identical fashion by bike-borne assailants in the early hours.
“The CBI has received the Bombay high court’s permission to dispatch forensic objects found in the Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare murder cases to Scotland Yard for ballistic opinion. The dispatch is being finalised,” CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh told HT.
The high court handed over the Dhabolkar case to the CBI in 2014. Sources said if a link is established between the three cases, the CBI may take up the two other cases.
Kalburgi’ murder last year prompted several writers to return their literary awards — some of the country’s highest — to protest what they said was an attempt to muzzle alternate views by radical outfits under the BJPled government at the Centre.
A CBI source said the items to be sent to Scotland Yard — the British police force acknowledged as the world’s best in investigating criminal cases — include spent shells recovered from the scenes of the Dabholkar and Pansare murders.
Once Scotland Yard’s report is received, the CBI will submit a final ballistic report to the high court, monitoring two of the cases.
Based on the findings, the agency may re-examine the Sanstha head, hypnotherapist Jayant Athavale, whose statement was recorded by the CBI in February in the Dabholkar case.
“The suspicion is that a rightwing outfit targeted the three rationalists due to reasons including ideological, with a similar type of 7.65mm weapon or weapons,” said the source.
According to the sources, two forensic analyses had confirmed the use of 7.65mm guns to kill Dabholkar and Pansare “but they differ on whether a single such gun was used and that is why the need to seek international help”.