Maharashtra is likely to ask the Centre to order the CBI to probe the murder of CPI leader Govind Pansare with investigations pointing to the use of the same gun in the murder of another rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.
In a letter to the Pansare family, a senior Maharashtra official said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had no objection to their demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation in the murder, a family source said. A special investigation team of the state police is investigating the murder blamed on a right-wing Hindu outfit.
On February 16, 2015, two bike-borne assailants shot at Pansare and wife Uma when they were returning home from a morning walk in Kolhapur. Uma survived the attack but Pansare died of his injuries four days later.
Uma and her daughter-in-law Megha wrote to Fadnavis a week ago, citing the arrest of a Dr Virendra Tawade, a member of Sanatan Sanstha, a saffron outfit, and other findings in the Dabholkar murder case to seek a CBI probe.
For the CBI to take over an investigation, a request has to be sent by a state government to the Centre.
The CBI, quoting forensic evidence, told a Mumbai court recently that a single weapon -- 7.65 mm firearm-- was used in the Dabholkar and Pansare murders.
HT had on June 3 reported that the CBI would seek Scotland Yard’s expertise to ascertain if Pansare and Dabholkar were killed with same firearm. Dabholkar, an anti-superstition campaigner, was shot dead in Pune in August 2013.
The clues emerged after the June 11 arrest of Tawade, alleged to be a member of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an affiliate of the Sanatan Sanstha that is active in Maharashtra and Goa.
Though the CBI is only probing the Dabholkar case, the subsequent killings of Pansare and Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi in Karnataka in 2015 have caught its attention because of similarities in the three crimes.
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 men.
The SIT arrested and chargesheeted an alleged Sanstha member, Samir Gaikwad, in December for allegedly plotting Pansare’s murder. Tawade, the HJS and the Sanstha have denied the charges.