Investigators probing the murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar have been told by the arrested accused that two key suspects — Rudra Patil and Sarang Akolkar of the Sanatan Sanstha — may be hiding in Uttar Pradesh and Konkan, Maharashtra, and changing their disguises to evade arrest. According to officials, both are linked to arrested accused Dr Virendra Tawde, also of the Sanatan Sanstha, who is in the CBI’s custody.
A source said they are verifying claims that the suspects, disguised as sadhus, are hiding in Varanasi and Malvan. Patil is a resident of Sangli and Akolkar is from Pune. Both are suspects in the 2009 Madgaon blast case and have been on the run since their names cropped up in connection with the blast. Sanatan Sanstha has denied any role in any of the cases.
On Wednesday, officers also recovered a Splendor motorcycle from Panvel allegedly used in the murders of both Dabholkar and Pansare by two suspected shooters believed to have links with Sanathan Sanstha. Teams from the CBI, Karnataka police and Kolhapur special investigation team conducted searches in Panvel to gather evidence against Tawde.
Tawade, a Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti member, was arrested by the CBI on June for the 2013 murder of Dabholkar. According to the CBI, he had been in touch with absconding Sanatan Sanstha activists on email. The agency recovered documents, mobile phone numbers, emails and other materials in their June 1 raid of Tawde’s and Akolkar’s homes.
Meanwhile, the CBI’s interrogation of Tawade, and other evidence collected by investigators, has led the agency to believe that Sanatan Sanstha activists had planned to kill Dabholkar in 2009 but could not do as things did not go according to script.
A CBI source said another plan — to carry out a blast in Goa — failed, forcing the organisation to put Dabholkar’s assassination on hold. “The evidence we have collected so far clearly indicates that Tawade and other Sanatan activists, including Sarang Akolkar, wanted to kill Dabholkar in 2009. But the group lost two of its men in the Goa (Madgaon) blast the same year, while Akolkar and other three absconded. This unexpected turn of events forced the activists to delay their murder plan,” said CBI official. Two Sanatan activists died in October 2009 when explosives they were carrying on a scooter went off in Madgaon in Goa.
Dabholkar, prominent anti-superstition campaigner, was killed on August 20, 2013 while on a morning walk by two unidentified men on a motorcycle. The case was handed over to the CBI after the city police failed to make any headway.
Separate investigations into the murders of Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Professor MM Kalburgi, a leftist ideologue and former vice-chancellor of Hampi University, indicate that all three were killed by the same gun, according to investigators.
(With inputs from Yogesh Joshi, Pune)