Police arrested a man at Sangli in Maharashtra on Wednesday in connection with the murder of senior Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and rationalist Govind Pansare, who was shot by unidentified assailants in February.
Sameer Vishnu Gaikwad, an active member of Sanatan Sanstha, was nabbed during a joint operation by policemen from Sangli and Kolhapur. He was picked up after police tracked details of his mobile phone records, sources said.
Gaikwad was remanded in police custody for seven days by a local court.
“We have arrested Gaikwad based on technical surveillance. While we are trying to ascertain certain evidence, we don't want to claim that with Gaikwad's arrest, we have cracked the Pansare murder case,” said Sanjay Kumar, chief of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
“We have never said Gaikwad is the one who shot Pansare. He is a suspect (who is) likely to have involvement, directly or indirectly, in the murder case.”
Police first detained Gaikwad late on Tuesday night. After being interrogated, he was formally arrested. Kumar said Gaikwad has been linked to the Sanatan Sanstha since 1998.
Read:Shot in Kolhapur, anti-toll tax campaigner Govind Pansare dies
Gaikwad, according to police sources, was an accused in several cases in Sangli district. The sources said he ran a mobile phone repair shop in Sangli a few years ago.
Pansare and his wife were shot at by assailants riding a motorcycle near his house in Kolhapur on February 16. He succumbed to his injuries five days later in a hospital in Mumbai.
His daughter-in-law Medha said, “We are waiting for more details about the arrest. At the moment I can say it’s unfortunate that someone from the region, which is known for its progressiveness, is involved in the Pansare murder case.”
The killing of 82-year-old Pansare had stunned intellectuals in Maharashtra as it came months after the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. There was an uncanny similarity between the two killings.
Pansare was known for his advocacy for the rights of people from the lowest strata of society. Born at Kolhar in Ahmednagar district on November 26, 1933, his family lost its farm to moneylenders.
He had been uncomfortable with the existing social system since his childhood. After becoming a member of the CPI, he began fighting for the rights of workers.
About a fortnight before his death, Pansare had faced protests from some students of the Shivaji University when he spoke against the glorification of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse by certain quarters of society.
Read| Remembering Govind Pansare: A 'beloved leader of the poor'