The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation and State CID to make sincere efforts to trace the accused in the murders of anti-superstition crusader Narendra Dabholkar and CPI member Govind Pansare.
A division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice BH Dangre continues to push the investigating agencies in doing more to ensure that all the accused in the two cases are arrested. The bench examined the progress reports submitted by both investigating agencies in a sealed cover.
The court noted that the report was not substantial and it seemed like there has not been much progress in the case. Justice Dharmadhikari said: “Investigating agencies should be pro-active, we need to not interfere, only when court passes an order action is taken. Summoning the senior official in the case was an extreme step but had to be taken as nothing seemed to be happening. The murders took place in 2013, 2015 and then Gauri Lankesh.
The citizens of this country are concerned about the audacity of the perpetrators who shot both Dabholkar and Pansare for speaking out against superstitious practices and religious intolerance.”
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh appeared on behalf of the CBI and submitted that there had been some delay as the State was waiting for a prior sanction to prosecute certain individuals under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). While appearing on behalf of the State CID, Senior Counsel Ashok Mundargi submitted that they had Amol Kale in custody, who, according to the CID, is one of the alleged key conspirators in the murders of Dabholkar and journalist Gauri Lankesh.
Mundargi said Kale was still being questioned by the CID. However, the court questioned the delay and asked both agencies to try and come up with a time frame within which the investigation can be completed. The court said-
“What are the steps taken to trace all of the accused? You must take concrete steps and make sincere efforts to conclude this investigation soon.”
While the CBI is investigating Narendra Dabholkar’s murder, the State CID is investigating the murder of Govind Pansare. Dabholkar was murdered in 2013, while Pansare was killed in 2015. MM Kalburgi, a Kannada writer, who, like Dabholkar, spoke against superstitious practices, was also killed in 2015.
Parallels have been drawn between the murders of MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh since both were killed from a close range by assailants outside their homes. While the CBI named Virendra Tawde as the key conspirator in Dabholkar’s killing, Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, both members of the Sanatan Sanstha, are the two men identified by the CBI as shooters who killed Dabholkar in 2013. Sameer Gaikwad, another member of the Sanstha, was arrested in connection with the murder of Govind Pansare.