The shooters involved in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar were trained for a week each in Ponda, Goa and in Jat, Sangli by a trainer, said sources in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), after questioning the arrested accused, Dr Virendra Tawade, and witnesses.
The training involved target practice, said the sources. Incidentally, the Sanatan Sanstha, a right-wing organisation which is linked to the case, has its headquarters in Ponda. CBI sources said it is likely that the two key suspects, Rudra Patil and Sarang Akolkar of the Sanatan Sanstha, were part of the training. Patil is a resident of Sangli and Akolkar is from Pune. Both are suspects in the 2009 Madgaon blast and have been on the run since their names cropped up in connection with the blast. Sanatan Sanstha has denied any role in the cases.
The CBI is trying to get more information from Tawade, also of the Sanatan Sanstha, who sources say is not cooperating with them. The CBI has also learnt that eight to 10 people are likely to have been part of the murder from planning to execution.
The CBI is also investigating possible links between Tawade and Sameer Gaikwad, a member of Sanatan Sanstha, who was arrested by the special investigating team investigating the murder of communist leader Govind Pansare. The CBI is likely to question Gaikwad again, apart from others who are connected to the 2009 Goa blast and Pansare case.
Investigators suspect that the murders are linked as a forensic laboratory in the state has already confirmed that the bullets fired at Dabholkar and Pansare were from a 7.65 mm revolver.
The CBI has decided to seek the help of Scotland Yard, to ascertain whether the firearm used in the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare and also in the murder of Kannada writer MM Kalburgi, is the same.
While the ballistic reports from Pune and Kolhapur are ready, the report from Karnataka police is awaited and the CBI would be sending it to Scotland Yard next week.