A court in Pune on Thursday granted the Central Bureau of Investigation custody of Sanjeev Punalekar, an accused in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case, till June 23, PTI reported. The custody was granted after the CBI told the court that there was a possibility that the Goa headquarters of the Sanatan Sanstha group was linked with the murder.
Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist, was shot dead in Pune on August 20, 2013.
Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Suryawanshi said Punalekar needs to be interrogated about documents recovered from his laptop. “It includes an incriminating letter from Punalekar mentioning the court proceedings of Nalasopara explosives [seizure] case, passing some observations about the judge,” he told the court. “The same letter also mentions one ‘Sadguru’. The CBI has to interrogate the accused as to who was the person, whom he was reporting to, who was his handler and to know the higher-level person in the organisation.”
The agency told the court on Thursday that the “higher-level person” is based in Goa and the accused may have to be taken to the state to meet some persons.
Punalekar, a lawyer who represented some of the accused in the case, was earlier in CBI custody but was shifted to judicial custody.
The CBI also said it found a letter dated September 17, 2012, written by Punalekar to Dabholkar, which showed that the accused hated the anti-superstitition activist even back then.
On June 14, the CBI and the Maharashtra Criminal Investigation Department told the Bombay High Court on Friday that they have established some commonality between the murders of rationalists Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. The CBI told a division bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel on Friday that all accused in the Dabholkar case have been arrested, but the weapons used in the crime are yet to be recovered.
So far, six people, including Sanatan Sanstha member and ENT surgeon Virendrasinh Tawde, and suspected shooters Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, have been arrested in the Dabholkar murder case. On June 4, the CBI told a special court in Pune that Punalekar and his assistant arrested in connection with the murder have not been cooperating with the inquiry.
In March, the Bombay High Court had pulled up the Maharashtra government for its alleged laxity in pursuing the two cases. It had wondered whether Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was too busy to enquire about the investigations into the killings.