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ATS recovers bike used in Gauri Lankesh murder?

Investigation finds links between suspects arrested in the Gauri Lankesh shooting with those held for the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar

mumbai Updated: Aug 29, 2018 10:45 IST
Mumbai,Gauri Lankesh,Narendra Dabholkar
One of the accused is taken away by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) after he was produced in court on Tuesday. (BHUSHAN KOYANDE/HT)

One of three motorcycles the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) recovered during its investigation of an arms case in Nalla Sopara and Pune may have been used in the shooting of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, in September 2017, ATS officials said.

The motorcycle belonged to Sharad Kalaskar — first arrested by the Maharashtra ATS in the arms case, and now faces possible transfer of custody to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for his alleged involvement in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, said ATS sources.

Kalaskar had provided the motorcycle to Amol Kale, one of the main people accused, and arrested, for Lankesh’s murder.

Maharashtra ATS chief Atulchandra Kulkarni confirmed the investigators had recovered the three bikes from Nalasopara and Pune.

“We are verifying if any of them were used in the murders,” Kulkarni said.

ATS sources told Hindustan Times that their investigations led them to find out that some of the people accused of, and arrested in the Lankesh case had been in touch with those arrested for killing Dabholkar.

“They used three bikes in the two murders, and would change registration plates to avoid getting caught,” said a police officer, requesting not to be named.

The location of the bikes surfaced on Saturday, when the Karnataka police and ATS officials questioned the accused.

The bike seized by the ATS matches with the description of the bike provided by Karnataka police.

Earlier, the ATS had seized six number plates, as well as explosives and arms during their searches in Nalla Sopara and Pune.

After shooting Lankesh, Kale returned the bike to Kalaskar, who then handed it over to a former Shiv Sena corporator, ATS sources said.

The CBI, on Tuesday, sought Kalaskar’s custody after his custodial interrogation by the Maharashtra ATS revealed that he, along with Sachin Andure, had been involved in the Dabholkar murder on August 20, 2013.

Andure was arrested on August 18. Kalaskar was arrested on August 10 along with Vaibhav Raut, Shrikant Pangarkar and Sudhanva Ghondalekar for allegedly conspiring to conduct blasts across Maharashtra.

All of them are believed to be sympathisers of the Hindu right-wing group, Sanatan Sanstha.

On Monday, the Sanatan Sanstha distanced itself from the arrested men, and said they are not members of the group.

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 00:28 IST