The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad to take over the inquiry into the murder of Communist Party of India leader Govind Pansare from the Special Investigation Team, Bar and Bench reported.
Pansare was attacked by two unidentified gunmen on his way home from a morning walk in western Maharashtra’s Kolhapur on February 16, 2015. He died of bullet wounds four days later.
The activist’s daughter-in-law Megha Pansare on July 7 had demanded in her petition before the High Court that the case be transferred to the Anti-Terrorism Squad. She said that the investigation status was pathetic as no headway has been made in the case since 2015.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the Maharashtra government also supported an Anti-Terrorism Squad inquiry into the murder.
“We are agreeable to either of the arrangements,” special public prosecutor Ashok Mundargi said. “ATS can be appointed and for continuation, some officers can be a part of it; or the SIT can continue the probe and some ATS officers can be included. But in my opinion, it will be better if ATS is handed over the probe.”
An officer of the level of additional director general of police, who heads the Anti-Terrorism Squad, will decide on the investigation team, Mundargi added.
In her plea, Megha Pansare contended that a “larger conspiracy” existed behind the killings of Pansare, anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, academician and activist MM Kalburgi in 2015 and journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017.
Advocate Abhay Nevagi, representing Megha Pansare, told the High Court in the previous hearing that the “link and mastermind” behind the killings should be investigated.
In June 2019, police arrested Hindutva activist Sharad Kalaskar in connection with Govind Pansare’s murder. Kalaskar was also linked to the murder of Dabholkar and Lankesh, the investigating agencies had said.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation, Kalaskar stayed in Kolhapur for more than a week before Pansare’s murder. Several persons have been named in the case, including Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, two activists with links to the Hindutva organisation Sanatan Sanstha.