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May 26, 2019

Dabholkar murder case: 2 accused sent to CBI custody till June 1

Agencies

Bengaluru, May 26: Pune Magistrate court on Sunday sent two accused in the Dabholkar murder case--Advocate Sanjeev Punalekar and Vikram Bhave -- to CBI custody till June 1.

Additional sessions judge S N Sonawane was hearing the matter pertaining to the murder of Narendra Dabholkar, founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS). He was shot dead by bike-borne assailants while returning home from a morning walk on August 20, 2013.

The probe agency had sought custodial interrogation of Sanjiv Punalekar for his role in the destruction of firearms used in the commission of the offence.

In an application moved by the CBI in court today, it submitted, "During the investigation, it is revealed that in the month of June 2018, accused Sharad Kalaskar, visited the chamber of Advocate Punalekar and told him about his role in Dabholkar's murder. He told Kalaskar to destroy firearms used in the murder cases including the murder of Gauri Lankesh. Punelekar custodial interrogation is required to unearth conspiracy which is in the exclusive knowledge of the accused and his involvement with other co-accused persons, in this case, having national and international ramification."

During the course of hearing, CBI lawyer Prakash Suryavanshi contended that while Bhave recced the spot where Dabholkar was shot, Advocate Punalekar was the conspirator.

While demanding 14 days police custody of the accused, Suryavanshi said, "Punalekar also helped the shooters to dismantle the weapon. Both the accused have also dismantled the vehicle used by shooters."

Vikram Bhave's counsel, however, argued that there was no mention of Bhave in the second charge sheet filed by the CBI. "Already one charge sheet has been filed in this case which said the shooters were two other people namely Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar. Advocate Bhave has already been investigated by CBI in September last year. They do not have any evidence like CCTV or call records to ascertain his involvement."

Another accused, Sanjeev Punalekar, said, "Seven months have passed since Karnataka SIT took the statement of Sharad Kalaskar, in which he had alleged my involvement in the case, then why did CBI not question me during this time?"

On May 25, the CBI had arrested the accused duo from Mumbai.

Punalekar is also an advocate for the case and has been advocating for many right-wing accused in different cases.

Earlier, CBI had arrested Amol Kale, Rajesh Bangera and Amit Degvekar in connection with the case, but they were granted bail by the Pune Sessions Court in 2018 as the agency failed to file charge sheet against them within the stipulated 90-day period.

Dabholkar murder case: 2 accused sent to CBI custody till June 1

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