Bombay High Court has asked the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the status of the investigation into the two murder cases of Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar. According to a live law report, A division bench of Justices JJ Shinde and Manish Pitale asked for status reports after it was informed that the trial in journalist Gauri Lankesh’s 2017 murder, in Karnataka, with a similar set of accused, has already begun but the investigation is still not complete, in Maharashtra.
The Court has reportedly said, “one day there has to be an end to this. This is a 2013 incident; we are in 2021. We are disturbed by the petitioner’s statement that the trial has already begun in Karnataka, but here the investigation is not even complete. The incident in Karnataka is after this.” Five years ago, on August 20, 2013, Dr. Dabholkar was assassinated in Pune. Two years after Dabholkar, rationalists Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi, and in 2017 journalist Gauri Lankesh, were assassinated.
Advocate Abhay Nevagi appearing for the families of the slain activists said that it was the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that found a link in all four cases. And while the CBI had filed three charge sheets against the four accused in the Dabholkar case, the SIT has made no headway in Pansare’s case. The Court then posted the matter for hearing on March 30 with a specific direction to the State and CBI to come with a positive statement.
CBI still is far from arresting the assassin of Dabholkar. The CBI arrested Sachin Prakashrao Andure of Aurangabad on August 18, 2018, alleging that he was among those who shot Dabholkar. Andure is the fourth person to be arrested in the case. On June 20, 2014 Manish Nagori and Vilas Khandewal were arrested by Pune police. Following a PIL filed by journalist Ketan Tirodkar, the CBI had taken over this case in May 2014 on the directions of the Bombay High Court.
In May 2016, Virendra Tawde of Sanatan Sanstha was arrested in connection with the case. Along with Tawde, the CBI has named Vinay Pawar, who is missing since 2009, Sarang Akolkar, who is absconding in the October 2009 Goa blast case, as prime suspects. The CBI also suspects that Andure hatched the murder conspiracy with Tawde.
While the investigations in the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi have not yet nailed the culprits, the SIT investigating the murder of Gauri Lankesh, has been successful in tracking down her assassin, and his confessions have confirmed what the gun indicated and has unveiled a larger conspiracy. The conspiracy and its scale began to unravel in 2017 when a Forensic Science Lab report revealed that the same gun was used to kill Kalburgi, Pansare and Lankesh. The three murders occurred at different places, and were months apart. It cannot be a coincidence that the same murder weapon was used everywhere.