The Monday morning attack on senior Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Govind Pansare is eerily similar to the shooting of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar.
Pansare, 78, and his wife were returning home from a morning walk when unidentified motorcycle-borne assailants fired at them, leaving both critically injured. Pansare was shot in his neck, hand and waist, while his wife suffered a bullet injury to her head.
After the attack, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio, has set up 10 teams of investigators, who have imposed naka bandis across all the entry points of Kolhapur.
“The police have formed 10 teams and the investigation is being monitored by the Inspector General of Kolhapur range,” said Fadnavis.
The shooting draws several parallels with the killing of Dabholkar, whose assailants are yet to be arrested. The anti-superstition activist was killed in Pune on August 20, 2013, when unidentified gunmen shot him while he was returning home from his morning walk and sped away on their bike.
The spot selected by Pansare’s attackers, too, is close to his house in Sagarmala locality of Kolhapur. According to the additional superintendent of police, the gunmen, like in Dabholkar’s case, had their faces covered.
Residents who heard the gunshots initially thought they were crackers being burst to celebrate India’s World Cup win over Pakistan. However, neighbours soon saw the couple lying in a pool of blood, after which they were taken to the nearby Aster hospital.
Pansare has been at the forefront of the anti-toll tax agitation in Kolhapur over the past several months. Around a fortnight ago, the veteran CPI leader was addressing students at Shivaji University when some members of the audience protested against his remark to not glorify Nathuram Godse.
A week ago, he was speaking at a programme on the 26/11 attacks, when he made certain references to late ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s death. According to sources, he received threats from fringe elements for his references. However the police have been cautious in reacting to the attacks, saying they are probing every angle.
“The police are probing the attack from every angle. Whoever is behind the attack will be brought to book,” said Fadnavis.