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Lankesh accused gave ‘pistol’ to Dabholkar murder suspect, says CBI in Pune court

The Central bureau of investigation (CBI) has also named Sharad Kalaskar as another “shooter” in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. The federal investigating agency, while seeking an extension of Sachin Andure’s custody, one of the alleged shooters in the Dabholkar case, told a local court in Pune that Kalaskar is another shooter in the case.

pune Updated: Aug 27, 2018 18:39 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Lankesh,Dabholkar
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. Here, Sachin Andure is being taken to the court on Sunday, August 26, 2018. (RAHUL RAUT/ HT PHOTO)

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.

According to CBI, the pistol in question was eventually 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 is being mentioned.

Based on the content of 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 - is now “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.

After spending 12 days in CBI custody, Andure, father of a five-month-old daughter, will now be produced in court on August 30

Salsingikar also argued that the CBI is trying to create confusion and is coming up with a new theory every time the death anniversary of Dabholkar approaches.

Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead by two motorbike-borne assailants on Omkareshwar bridge 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.

The Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmolan Samiti (MANS), founded by Dabholkar, observes his death anniversary every year at the very spot in Pune where he was murdered.

Three years after his death, Virendrasinh Tawade was arrestedfrom Panvel, the first arrest in the case.On September 6, 2017, three months after Dr Tawade's arrest, a chargesheet under Sections 302 (murder) along with 120(b) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), was filed by the CBI.

CBI names Kalaskar as another shooter

The Central bureau of investigation (CBI) has named Sharad Kalaskar as another “shooter” in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. The federal investigating agency, while seeking an extension of Sachin Andure’s custody, one of the alleged shooters in the Dabholkar case, told a local court in Pune that Kalaskar is another shooter in the case.

Kalaskar was among five persons arrested by the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) earlier this month in connection with the seizure of crude bombs and firearms from various parts of the state, including Nalasopara.

“CBI is trying to trace the motorcycle used in the offence by accused Sachin Prakashrao Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, another shooter in this case,” CBI said in its remand report for the extension of Andure’s custody.

The court remanded Andure in CBI custody till August 30. CBI officials said they will take custody of Kalaskar on Monday, the day when his ATS custody expires.

Advocate Prakash Salsingikar (HT Photo )

“Kalaskar is currently in the custody of the ATS in the Nalasopara explosives seizure case. CBI will seek his custody in the Dabholkar case also, as he and Andure need to be interrogated together,” said special public prosecutor Vijaykumar Dhakane.

CBI has also told the court that it will take custody of another person accused in the journalist Gauri Lankesh murder case.

Dabholkar was shot dead by two motorbike-borne assailants at Pune’s Omkareshwar bridge on August 20, 2013, when he was returning home from a morning walk.

Opposing the extension of Andure’s custody, defence counsel Prakash Salsingikar cited a charge sheet filed by the CBI in 2016 in the Dabholkar murder case. In its charge sheet filed against Virendra Tawade, whom agency has accused as co-conspirator in the Dabholkar case, the CBI had named Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as the assailants who had fired bullets at Dabholkar.

Salsingikar, while referring CBI’s 2016 charge sheet against Tawade, said, “Is the CBI ready to say on record that the earlier investigation was wrong?”

CBI officials, however, said that names of Akolkar and Pawar mentioned in the charge sheet based on their sketches created by an artist after statements by witnesses.

First Published: Aug 27, 2018 14:40 IST