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Gauri Lankesh death puts focus back on Kalburgi, Pansare, Dabholkar murders

india Updated: Sep 06, 2017 16:31 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gauri Lankesh,Gouri Lankesh,Kannada journalist

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah pays last tributes to journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: The murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru on Tuesday night has brought the spotlight back on three other high-profile killings, investigations into which have made little headway.

Narendra Dabholkar of Maharashtra and MM Kalburgi from Karnataka were both rationalists while Govind Pansare, who lived in Kolhapur, was a vocal critic of the Hindutva agenda. Like Lankesh, they had roiled many with their strong views and were silenced by assassins’ bullets.

Dabholkar was shot dead near his home in Shaniwar Peth in 2013, Pansare died of wounds after being shot in 2015, and Kalburgi was killed by a hail of bullets in Dharwad in 2015.

Though the three murders made headlines and triggered nationwide outrage, little progress has been made in bringing the culprits to book. No arrests have been made so far in connection with Kalburgi’s killing despite the case being investigated by the criminal investigation department (CID) of the Karnataka police.

Dabholkar’s murder is being investigated by the CBI and a member of the secretive Hindu outfit Sanathan Sanstha, headquartered in Goa, has been arrested. One person was arrested in connection with Pansare’s murder but the suspect is currently out on bail. Two others suspected to be involved in both the murders are still absconding, prompting the Bombay high court to urge the investigating agencies to use modern methods to track them down.

“These are not acts committed by a person or two,” a bench of the court observed. “The reports indicate that this is a completely organised set up,” the judges said.

Police suspect the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare were linked and were carried out by the Sanathan Sanstha. Dabholkar campaigned tirelessly against superstitious practices while Pansare took on Hindu right-wing groups during his lifetime. Police suspect the duo had earned the wrath of the Sanathan Sanstha and were therefore killed.

Narendra Dabholkar: Killed on August 20, 2013 in Pune
Poliece suspect role of Hindu right-wing group Sanathan Sanshta.
One suspect arrested.
Two more suspects absconding.
Case being investigated by CBI.
Govind Pansare: Killed on February 16, 2015 in Mumbai
Sanathan Sanstha role suspected.
One arrested, now on bail.
Two absconding.
Maharashtra Special Investigating Team probing the case.
MM Kalburgi: Killed on August 30, 2015 in Dharwad
None arrested.
Karnataka CID investigating.
Police claim they are on verge of a breakthrough.

Two years after Kalburgi’s killing, Karnataka police claim they are on the verge of a breakthrough in the case. They have, however, refused to explain their inability to arrest anyone till date.

Last year, the Karnataka home minister G Parameshwara said that there was evidence to suggest that the rationalist writer’s killing too was linked to the murders of Dabholkar and Pansare. It will take time to establish the truth though, since investigations into all three cases are progressing at a snail’s pace.

(With inputs from Yogesh Joshi in Pune and Vikram Gopal in Bengaluru)

First Published: Sep 06, 2017 16:25 IST