Dabholkar murder case trial to begin soon; Pune court frames charges against accused

Social activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead while he was out on his morning walk by two assailants, and all accused belong to right wing Sanatan Sanstha

Dabholkar murder case trial Image: PTI

A special court in Pune has framed charges against the five accused linked to the radical outfit Sanatan Sanstha in the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Dabholkar was a crusader against superstitious practices and was the founder of the anti-superstition organisation Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS). He was shot dead by two assailants in Pune on August 20, 2013 on VR Shinde Bridge.

The accused, Dr Virendrasingh Tawade, Sachin Andure Sharad Kalaskar and Vikram Bhave have been charged for murder, conspiracy to commit murder as well as Section 16 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act pertaining to terrorist act and certain sections of the Arms Act. The fifth accused Sanjeev Punalekar has been charged for destruction of evidence.

When Additional Sessions Judge S R Navandar asked the accused whether they plead guilty or not, Kalaskar, Tawade and Andure sought more time. But the court refused to grant the same and all five accused pleaded not guilty. The court has directed all accused who are not at Pune’s Yerawada prison be shifted there for the trial.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), had taken over the case in 2014 and had deemed Tawade to be the mastermind of the conspiracy and eventually other accused were chargesheeted. The agency claimed that Bhave helped the shooters procure the bike, conduct a reconnaissance and find an escape route, reported Indian Express. Punalekar and Bhave are out on bail. During the investigation three other Sanatan members  Amol Kale, Amit Digwekar and Rajesh Bangera were also arrested, however they have not been chargesheeted. The three, along with Kalaskar, have been named as accused in the 2017 murder of Bengaluru journalist Gauri Lankesh.

The Bombay High Court continues to monitor the probe in this case, and in early March, had pulled up CBI for not completing the probe. The slow paced probe has finally culminated to the stage where trial can begin and the hope that justice will be served upon the guilty has seen the light of the day.

The case will next be heard on September 20.


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