The alleged main shooter arrested in the Narendra Dabholkar killing case received “shooting training” at various places in Maharashtra and Karnataka, the CBI told a court on Sunday.
Sachin Prakasrao Andure, who was arrested on Saturday evening by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), was remanded on Sunday in the CBI custody till August 26.
He was produced before the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) A S Mujumdar at Shivajinagar amid heavy security.
While seeking his custody for 14 days, CBI counsel (public prosecutor) Vijaykumar Dhakane said the investigation revealed that Andure had received “shooting training” at various places in Maharashtra and Karnataka before executing Dabholkar’s killing.
“The CBI needs to investigate where he underwent the shooting training and also people who provided the required infrastructure to both the shooters,” he said.
The probe agency told the court that Andure is one of the two assailants who shot at Dabholkar at Omkareshwar Bridge on August 20, 2013.
“The entire conspiracy was hatched by Dr Virendra Tawde along with this accused and this (conspiracy) needs to be unearthed for which his custodial interrogation is needed,” the CBI counsel told the court.
The CBI had arrested Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member Tawde in June 2016 from his house in Panvel in the neighbouring Navi Mumbai township and in the charge sheet, he was mentioned as the main conspirator.
Defence counsel Prakash Salsingikar raised questions over the arrest of Andure and said that after arresting Tawde, the CBI in its charge sheet mentioned the names of Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as Dabholkar’s killers.
He said the CBI claimed that sketches prepared on the basis of descriptions given by seven to eight witnesses resemble with the photos of Akolkar and Pawar.
“Now suddenly, the CBI has come out with this new theory that it was Andure who shot at Dabholkar. The sketches have no resemblance with Andure’s facial characteristics,” he said.
In the charge sheet also, there was no mention of Andure, Salsingikar said, and opposed the prosecution’s demand for his 14-day custody.
He said the court should direct the prosecution to submit a copy of the charge sheet filed against Tawde in the case.
Dhakane, however, said the CBI never named Akolkar and Pawar as the main killers and that the charge sheet only speaks about resemblance of sketches with Akolkar and Pawar.
“The resemblance is only 50 to 60 per cent and nowhere in the charge sheet the CBI mentioned them as the accused,” he said.
The CBI also said that it has to seize the weapon and the vehicle used in the commission of the crime.
After hearing the arguments, JMFC Mujumdar remanded Andure in CBI custody till August 26.
Sachin Andure’s brother Pravin Andure, who was present in the court during the hearing, told reporters later that his sibling was innocent and “falsely implicated” in the case.
Andure was believed to be one of the shooters who fired at Dabholkar while he was on a morning walk on the Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune on August 20, 2013, the CBI spokesperson said on Saturday.
He was arrested on a tip-off from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which had last week arrested three persons for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to carry out blasts in the state.
One of the arrested accused gave the input about Andure’s involvement in Dabholkar’s murder, which the ATS shared with the CBI, the spokesperson said.
During the questioning of the accused in police custody, one of them revealed about his direct participation in Dabholkar’s murder, the ATS said in a statement.
In June 2016, the CBI had filed a charge sheet against Tawde under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder) of the IPC, among other charges.
Tawde was allegedly the mastermind of the killing, the CBI had said.
The Bombay High Court had, in May 2014, handed over the Dabholkar murder case to the CBI.
Dabholkar’s killing and communist leader and rationalist Govind Pansare’s killing in a similar manner in February 2015 had sent shock waves throughout the state.