The CBI will seek the 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 agency’s scanner because of the similarities in the three crimes.
The rightwing 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 7.65 mm 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 the country’s highest literary awards to protest what they said was an attempt to muzzle alternate views by radical outfits under the BJP-led government at the Centre.
A CBI source said the items to be sent to the Scotland Yard – the British police force acknowledged as the world’s best in investigating criminal cases – include spent shells recovered from the crime scenes of Dabholkar and Pansare murder.
Once the 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 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 7.65 mm weapon or weapons,” said the source.
According to the sources, two forensic analysis had confirmed the use of 7.65 mm 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”.