No Trial 8 Years After Govind Pansare’s Murder
Image Courtesy: PTI
The trial into the murder of rationalist-activist and CPI member Govind Pansare has not started eight years after he was shot five times by two unidentified men on February 16, 2015. He died of his wounds four days later on February 20.
“It is very important for the guilty to be punished as violence has increased in society,” Pansare’s daughter-in-law and social activist Megha Pansare told The Hindu.
Pansare’s most important book Who was Shivaji countered the propaganda of right-wing groups that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was anti-Muslim.
In January, Maharashtra Special Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Judge SS Tambe framed charges against 10 persons who are members of Sanatan Sanstha, according to PTI.
The 10 accused are Sameer Gaikwad, Virendra Sinh Tawde, Amol Kale, Vasudev Suryawanshi, Bharat Kurane, Amit Degvekar, Sharad Kalaskar, Sachin Andure, Amit Baddi and Ganesh Miskin. Two more accused Vinay Pawar and Sarang Akolkar, the alleged shooters, are absconding.
Tawde, also accused in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case, and Gaikwad, are out on bail while Andure, Baddi, Suryawanshi, Kurane, Degvekar, Kalaskar, Kale and Miskin are in jail. Kale and Degwekar are also accused in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
According to special public prosecutor Shivajirao Rane, the charges were framed under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act.
The judge also asked the prosecution to produce the list of witnesses and documents from investigating agencies, The Times of India reported.
Last August, the Bombay High Court (HC) had transferred the investigation to the ATS from a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Maharashtra Criminal Investigation Department more than seven years after the murder after allowing the application filed by Pansare’s family, PTI had reported.
Special public prosecutor Harshad Nimbalkar told The Hindu that the “recording of the evidence will begin soon. We will begin the trial, and the investigation by the ATS will be carried out simultaneously”.
Advocate Abhay Nevgi, appearing for the Pansare family in court, said, “Handing over of the investigation to the ATS is a positive step in the case and I am hopeful that the agency will arrest the absconding shooters for the trial to begin in a month.”
The family, however, is “not satisfied with the pace of the case as the trial has still not begun”. “We were expecting now that charges are framed against the accused, the trial will begin. However, the pace is very slow. Now that the investigation in the case has been shifted to the ATS, we expect it to be expedited, and that the agency reaches the mastermind and those who are absconding,” Megha said.
“We hope that the leads by ATS will be incorporated in the chargesheet as the case is being monitored by the High Court,” she added.
According to Megha, the forces and the organisations accused in the case “have become very strong and aggressive, and violence has increased in society. So, it is very important to punish these people because there is no other way to control them”.
Even the HC had observed that “by the methodology adopted, the absconding accused are not going to be arrested for years together”, Nevgi wrote in a column published in The Wire on Monday.
According to Nevgi, the slow progress in the case compelled the HC to say: “It is time that we impress upon the ministries and particularly of ministry of external affairs and home that investigations of crime and as serious as the one highlighted in our earlier orders would serve a larger public purpose that would ensure building up the confidence not only of the police and investigating machinery in India but would send right message across the world that no crime will go unpunished in this country.”
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