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Defence lawyer, Sanatan member arrested in Narendra Dabholkar murder case

The CBI arrested Sachin Punalekar, a lawyer representing some of the accused in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case along with a member of the right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha.

PTI PTI
Pune Published on: May 25, 2019 23:55 IST
Rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in the year

Rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in the year 2013

The CBI on Saturday arrested a lawyer representing some of the accused in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case along with a member of the right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha.

Advocate Sanjeev Punalekar and Vikram Bhave, a member of the Sanatan Sanstha, are accused of helping in the destruction of evidence, said an official of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The Sanatan Sanstha came under investigators' scanner after Dabholkar's killing.

The duo was arrested in Mumbai and will be produced before a Pune court Sunday, the official said.

Preliminary probe revealed that Punalekar and Bhave had links with the two men who allegedly killed Dabholkar and helped in destruction of evidence apart from providing other assistance, he said.

Dabholkar, a renowned anti-superstition activist, was shot dead while he was out on a morning walk in Pune on August 20, 2013.

Bhave is a convict in the 2008 Gadkari Rangayatan blast case, and currently on bail.

After he was released on bail, Bhave penned a book in Marathi, titled 'Malegaon Sphotamagil Adrushya Haat' (The invisible hand behind the Malegaon blast).

It is suspected that it was Bhave who identified Dabholkar for the shooters, the CBI official said.

So far, six people, including Sanatan Sanstha member and ENT surgeon Virendrasinh Tawde, Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, have been arrested by the CBI in the Dabholkar case.

The CBI had claimed that Tawde was the "mastermind" of the conspiracy to kill Dabholkar and veteran CPI leader and rationalist Govind Pansare.

Pansare was killed in Kolhapur in February 2015.

Andure and Kalaskar were the ones who shot Dabholkar, the CBI has claimed.

The agency had also arrested Rajesh Bangera, Amol Kale and Amit Digvekar in connection with the conspiracy.

Bangera and Kale are also accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.

Lankesh was shot dead in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017.

The Goa-headquartered Sanatan Sanstha condemned the arrests Saturday.

"The arrest of Sanjeev Punalekar, national Secretary of Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad, and Vikram Bhave, RTI activist of the Parishad, in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case is strongly protested," the Sanstha said in a press note.

The arrests, which took place when a "pro-Hindutva government is in power", smacked of a conspiracy, it said.

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