Dr. Narendra Dabholkar
Source: The Wire

The untimely demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput has resulted in waves of shock in the entire nation. The social media is erupting in anger and the mainstream media is excessively sensationalising the matter. Even several Indian authorities have delayed in prompt investigations, and now the case is in the hands of CBI, the Central Bureau of Investigation. And just after the court handed over Sushant's case to CBI, Hamid Dabholkar, the son of the great activist Narendra Dabholkar, who was assassinated in Pune, said that, for the last six years, the CBI has been interrogating his father’s murder trial yet the leading assassin stays exempt. So, this is not the first time the CBI is handling such a controversial issue, there are numerous unsolved and forgotten cases still waiting to get justice from the CBI investigation, and Dr Narendra Dabholkar's murder case is one of them.

Today, when several people are misusing their freedom of speech, this revolutionary man used his rights for the welfare of society. But in Pune on August 20, 2013, activist Narendra Achyut Dabholkar was shot by two men while he was on a morning walk on a bridge near Omkareshwar temple in Pune. He was 67 years old when he died. Three more identical murders happened in following years, that included the communist leader Govind Pansare, Bangalore journalist Gauri Lankesh and Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi. These murders provoked a national quarrel encircling the issues of freedom of speech and numerous aggressive groups to rational feeling.

N. Dabholkar
Govind Pansare
Gauri Lankesh
MM Kalburgi

The current interrogating agencies said that these bloodbaths were nearly associated and may have some common culprits. Dr Dabholkar's murder and the investigation was originally handled by Maharashtra police and presently by CBI, which has retained its stake of debates and denials.

In Pune, when activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar was killed in 2013, the initial investigation was made by Pune city police by arresting Manish Nagori, an apparent gun’s dealer and his assistant Vilas Khandelwal in January 2014. But both of them already had a hostile arrest history and they were arrested for another previous case of extortion. Afterwards, both of them were transmitted to the detention of ‘Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad’ (ATS) and around 40 illegal handguns were a recovered from them. Moreover, an inspection of one of those guns reported that it resembled with the markings of ammunition taken from the Dabholkar murder area in Pune. Later, the Pune police arrested them with the murders of an anonymous man in a Pune and also for Dabholkar's murder. But when they were attained in court on January 21, 2014, both of them insisted that then ATS chief Rakesh Maria proposed them Rs 25 lakh for admitting the Dabholkar’s murder. Still, during following hearings, they confessed that their comments against Rakesh Maria occurred because of a sentimental disturbance. And after a few months, Manish Nagori, Vilas Khandelwal were discharged on bail by the court and were never charge-sheeted in the same trial.

Eventually, in June 2014, the CBI took over Dabholkar murder investigation in their hands, obeying a Bombay High Court order. On the explanations of some witnesses, the CBI charged an ENT surgeon Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, he was moreover associated with the ‘Sanatan Sanstha’. CBI explained that Tawade is one of the crucial culprits of the murder plot. Previously Tawade was also charged by Maharashtra police for Pansare murder case, who was shot near his residence in Kolhapur in February 2015.

CBI declared that the hatred between Dabholakar's Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) with Sanatan Sanstha as the intention behind his killing. In 2016s charge-sheet, an agency listed Sanatan Sanstha fellows Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as the two attackers who killed Dabholkar. But in August 2018, CBI rejected its initial statement and charged Hindutva activists Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, the CBI notified the court that these two were the actual attackers of Dabholkar.

Last year in May 2019, CBI charged Sanatan Sanstha lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar and his assistant Vikram Bhave in Mumbai. While Sarang, Vinay, Sachin, Sharad and Vikram have been charge-sheeted till now by CBI, Sanjeev Punalekar is presently out on bail and others are in prison. Moreover, CBI charged three others, Amol Kale, Amit Digwekar and Rajesh Bangera, who along with Sharad Kalasakar are similarly charged in the 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. However, Kale, Digwekar and Bangera have not been charge-sheeted.

Presently, CBI has affirmed that the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare, Lankesh and Kalburgi are somehow connected to each other. The primary suspects, Nagori and Khandelwal are not counted in the recent investigation and CBI haven't formulated any evidence of the handguns reclaimed from them. In the issue of weapons used for murders, the CBI has already charged lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar claiming that he had recommended Sharad Kalaskar to demolish the handguns handled in multiple murders and Kalskar pulled apart four country-made handguns and threw the pieces in a creek of the Arabian sea near Thane on July 7 in 2018. And ultimately in 2019, the CBI declared to have recovered a handgun from the creek, with the help of a hired foreign agency. After the recovery of weapon, the CBI told that the weapon would be analyzed by forensic authorities to verify if it was connected to the Dabholkar murder case. But the results of these analyses are unspecified and on one has been precisely convicted for the murder.

Before the Dabholkar's murder, he was an anti-superstition activist and he moreover established ‘Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti’ (MANS) after leaving his decade long medical practice in the late 1980s to demolish the deeply rooted superstitious methods in the state. Moreover, he strived to build an anti-superstition legislative framework. Dabholkar was similarly involved in activities assigned to scientific attitude and equality among several communities of the society. And ironically, after his bloodbath, the government of Maharashtra cleared the pending anti-superstition and black magic processes law which became a lawful regulation in December 2013. Activists of MANS carried a ‘Jawaab Do’ protest at the Vitthal Ramji Shinde bridge on 20 August 2020 for the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, but their protest for this revolutionary man mostly went unnoticed in the storms of the recent late actor's case and the pandemic period, and Dabholkar's family and followers are yet waiting for the justice.



(Sakal Times/ Economic Times/ Wikipedia)