When investigations failed in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case, then the Maharashtra government announced a Rs 10 lakh reward for any information leading to the arrest of two missing gunmen Vinay Pawar and Sarang Dilip Akolkar wanted for the killing of veteran Communist leader and social activist Govind Pansare. Earlier to that, CBI announces a Rs 5 lakh reward for leads on Narendra Dabholkar’s killers too. Sameer Vishnu Gaikwad and Virendrasingh Tawade were arrested in connection with these cases. Akolkar, Pawar and Rudra Patil were the wanted accused in this case.
Dabholkar had faced several threats and assaults since 1983 but had rejected police protection. Murdered on 20 August 2013, while out on a morning walk, Dabholkar was shot down by two gunmen near Omkareshwar temple, Pune at 7:20 am. The assailants fired four rounds at him from a point-blank range and fled on a motorcycle parked nearby. Two bullets hit Dabholkar in his head and chest and he died on the spot.
Dabholkar had originally donated his body to a medical college. But the autopsy made necessary by his murder left the slain leader’s body unfit for academic purposes. He was cremated in Satara without any religious rites. His pyre was lit by his daughter, Mukta, in contradiction to the tradition where the son lights the pyre. His ashes were collected without any religious ceremony and scattered over his organic farm.
Dabholkar’s assassination was condemned by many political leaders and social activists. The Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan announced a reward of Rs 1 crore to any person with information about the assailants.
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Furthermore, political parties called for a bandh (strike) in Pune on 21 August, and various institutions across Pune remained closed to protest Dabholkar’s assassination. As time flew the investigation and outrage both reached cold storage.
A 14-year-old eyewitness saw the assailants; the police have also recorded the statement of many Sanatan Sanstha members under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). These members have given details of the conspiracy and the involvement of the arrested and wanted accused. One of the key witnesses who were a sadhak with the outfit has identified the shooters and has stated in his statement that Pawar and Tawde visited his Kolhapur home in December 2014 just two months before Pansare’s murder. The said sadhak always provided shelter to the wanted accused when they visited Kolhapur.
The state police have revealed ‘ideological difference’ and the “hatred’ that Tawde had toward Pansare as the motive behind the murder. Pansare was very vocal in his criticism of the right-wing outfit. He also wrote and spoke against Sanatan Sanstha at various meetings and gatherings that did go down well with Tawde. On many occasions, they even had face-offs with each other. Police are yet to establish a common link in the murders of Kalburgi and Govind Pansare in Kolhapur and Narendra Dabholkar in Pune in 2013, investigators have found evidence that the same weapon was used in all three crimes. The shooters and suspects are also the same.
All three cases were earlier linked based on the profile of the victims, probable motives, and modus operandi. Now, the investigation says a 7.65-mm country-made weapon was used for the killings with the cartridges providing the first physical evidence linking the murders. Forensic analysis of bullet cartridges recovered at the scene of all three crimes has revealed the same 7.65-mm country-made pistol was used. This revelation, which is made in a CID confidential report to the State government, comes close on the heels of the Centre denying any link between the three killings.
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In the aftermath of the assassination the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance, which Dabholkar helped draft, was enacted by the government of Maharashtra in 2013. Since its passage, the law has been used to indict the perpetrators of a series of egregious lurid frauds, often combined with sexual assault. Unfortunately, the perpetrators have often eluded their victims and the police and escaped to other provinces in which no similar protection against charlatans yet exists.
The Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance apply only in the comparatively well-off and well-educated province of Maharashtra. In the rest of India, the people lack comparable protection from fraudulently pretend healers and other miracle fakers. Dalbholkar’s daughter, Mukta, and other activists have picked up and carried forward his campaign for a national-wide anti-superstition law. The All-India Peoples Science Network (AIPSN) observes August 20 as National Scientific Temper Day to commemorate Dr Narendra Dabholkar.
Rule of Law ? !!
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