The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) submitted to a Pune court on Thursday a list of six names it believes are linked to rationalist Narendra Dabholkar’s murder.
All six people -- including an ENT surgeon, Virendra Tawade -- are members of rightwing group Sanatan Sanstha. The CBI has already arrested Tawade, whom it refers to as the “architect” in the murder case, while four others, who are also suspects in a 2009 Margaon blast, are absconding. Another suspect has been interrogated in rationalist Govind Pansare’s murder, too, according to a source.
Tawde was arrested by the CBI from Panvel last week. Seeking an extension of his custody, CBI lawyer BP Raju informed judicial magistrate VB Gulve-Patil that the accused was not cooperating in the investigation and his further custodial interrogation was necessary. The court later extended the CBI custody of the right-wing activist till June 20.
The names of the suspects emerged when the CBI scrutinised an email exchange involving Tawade.
The CBI told the court that Tawade was asked by an unidentified Sanatan activist through an email to focus on Dabholkar just before the rationalist’s murder. “Around two-three months before Dabholkar was executed, Tawade received an email from an unidentified ID. Through the email, Tawade was asked to concentrate on Dabholkar,” CBI counsel BP Raju said.
According to the CBI, some of the suspects have frequently changed their identities to evade arrest and used code language to exchange information.
A CBI source said a witness identified Tawde’s Sanatan Sanstha accomplice Saran Akolkar as the “shooter” in the Dabholkar killing after going through sketches of suspects.
Dabholkar (67), a leading anti-superstition activist, was shot dead by two unidentified motorcycle borne assailants at point blank range in Pune in 2013.
Sanatan Santha, while denying the involvement of its members in the Dabholkar murder, has accused the CBI of hatching a conspiracy to “malign” its name.