Killings of Narendra Dabholkar, Gauri Lankesh linked, CBI tells court
The Central bureau of investigation (CBI) has, for the first time, established a direct link between the murders of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru and anti-superstition crusader, Narendra Dabholkar, in Pune.
The CBI, appearing before a Pune court on Sunday seeking an extension of the custody of Sachin Andure, prime accused in the shooting of Dabholkar, stated that a pistol recovered during recent raids in Aurangabad was connected to the Lankesh murder and had passed through Andure’s possession.
“During the interrogation of accused Sachin Prakashrao Andure, it is revealed that one of the arrested accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case handed over one 7.65mm country-made pistol and three bullets to Sachin Andure. Sachin Andure passed this country-made pistol and three bullets with magazine on August 11 evening, to his brother-in-law Shubham Surale, in Aurangabad,” the CBI said in its remand report, seeking an extension of Andure’s custody.
The CBI said the pistol in question was recovered during the August 21 raids from one Rohit Rege’s residence in Aurangabad. Rege got the pistol from Surale.
Judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) Hemlata Jadhav extended the CBI custody of Andure till August 30.
“The weapon will now be sent for ballistic tests to determine whether it had anything to do with Dabholkar’s murder,” said CBI counsel Vijaykumar Dhakane. “CBI is in the process of taking custody of another accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case being investigated by the SIT Karnataka,” the remand report of Andure has stated.
While CBI has not named the Lankesh suspect it wants to arrest in the Dabholkar case, but agency sources, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed to HT that Amol Kale’s name was being mentioned.
Based on the chargesheet, defence advocate Prakash Salsingikar asked the prosecution if the CBI was ready to admit that its earlier line of investigation, which incriminates two individuals named Asarng Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, was “obsolete”.
To that, Nandkumar Nair, superintendent of police at CBI’s special crime branch, claimed that the chargesheet merely claimed that the sketch made by eye-witnesses “resembles Sarang Akolkar”, and does not directly incriminate him.
Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead by two motorbike-borne assailants in Pune on August 20, 2013 at 7.25 am, while Gauri Lankesh was shot dead on September 6, 2017, outside her residence by three unidentified men.