Even as Sameer Vishnu Gaikwad, 32, a suspect in the Govind Pansare murder case, proves to be a tough nut to crack during the interrogation, the police have zeroed in on his alleged link with Rudra Patil, 34, a member of the Sanatan Sanstha and an accused in the 2010 Goa blast.
Pansare , a communist leader, and his wife were out on a morning walk on February 16 this year when unidentified motorbike-borne assailants shot at them near his house in Kolhapur. Pansare later succumbed to bullet injuries.
According to officers in the Special Investigation Team (SIT), Patil was in touch with Gaikwad just before Pansare was attacked in Kolhapur. According to police records, Patil has been absconding since the October 16, 2009 Goa blast, in which two Sanatan Sanstha activists were killed when they were allegedly transporting the bomb through Margaon. A special court in Margaon acquitted six out of the 11 people associated with the Sanstha, citing lack of evidence.
Patil is also a resident of Sangli like Gaikwad.
When asked if Patil is being treated as suspect in the case, SIT chief Sanjay Kumar said, “I am not in Kolhapur and cannot comment on this. Please contact Kolhapur SP Manojkumar Sharma for more details.” Phone calls and text messages to Sharma went unanswered.
On the second consecutive day on Monday, the National Investigation Team, which arrived in Kolhapur from Delhi, questioned Gaikwad about Patil.
Gaikwad, according to SIT officials, is heard in a phone conversation with another Sanstha member Jyoti Kamble, bragging about Pansare’s death.
Gaikwad was on the police radar for the past six months after his mobile phone was put under surveillance. He was arrested on Thursday only after a nod from senior officers. “At the moment, we prefer to call him a suspect,” Sanjay Kumar, chief of CID and the head of SIT told reporters after arresting Gaikwad. When asked the exact role of Gaikwad in the murder, the head of SIT said, “He is likely to have a direct or indirect involvement in the case.”
Sanatan Sanstha, a right-wing group, while accepting Gaikwad has been its full-time associate for the past few years, rejected the police’s claims about his involvement in the crime. “Even the police are not sure about his exact role in the case,” said Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson Sandip Shinde.