Five years have passed since Narendra Dabholkar was murdered in Pune. Suddenly there is lot of activity on investigation front.Just a few days ago, Maharashtra ATS and CBI claimed to have arrested his shooter from Aurangabad. Sachin Andhure is the name of the Hindutvawadi youngster. A revolver was also recovered from his 3 friends who are now in police custody.
A week and half ago, ATS raided a middle-class home in Nalasopara to recover bombs, detonators and pistols. Vaibhav Raut, linked with Hindu Janjagriti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha, was arrested along with two others, who lead the investigating agencies to Andhure. Maharashtra ATS and CBI now claims to have unearthed the murder plot. There are stories in media about it, off course planted by these investigators.
It is obvious that Sachin Andhure’s arrest would have come as a relief for Dabholkar’s well wishers and family members. If the ATS and CBI have really managed to crack the case after five full years, one must congratulate them. The High Court had admonished investigative agencies several times as they could make little headways into the case after arresting Sameer Gaikwad and Virendra Tawde. The recent developments would have released some pressure from the senior officers of the agencies as well. The state government would have also heaved a sigh of relief.
However, Andhure’s arrest seems to have complicated the matters further. Earlier in 2016, CBI had claimed that absconding Sanatan activists Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar are behind the fatal attack on Dabholkar and Pansare. They even backed it up with eyewitness testimonies. But if Andhure is now pinned as the one who shot Dabholkar, what role did the other two play? Andhure’s lawyer highlighted the precise discrepancy while CBI demanded his custody in court. In 2014, Pune Police had arrested Nagori and Khandelwal, to criminals, suspecting that they had shot Dr. Dabholkar. But nothing happened in that case and both accused are out on bail.
It is true, CBI would be able to submit an additional chargesheet. But Sachin Andhure’s arrest is a twist in the case, which needs to be dealt with delicately. The CBI and ATS knows the importance of evidence in a case like this. Plus, the CBI had even claimed in 2016 that Tawde is the mastermind behind the murder. The new arrests would possibly lead to him. It would be a litmus test of the officers and government lawyers to argue the case effectively. One expects them to not repeat the chaos we saw during the Aarushi murder case. But the history of CBI and ATS makes one sceptical.
I came across many citizens in last ten days who asked me if CBI really found the real murderer. All well-meaning folks. But the atmosphere is such that the trust factor is receding alarmingly. In a state of insecurity, unless of a full-proof submission, people are not ready to believe the government or investigating agencies. The only way the agencies can regain the trust is by ensuring strictest punishments to the murderers of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. The target is still a fair distance away.
In the past six months, Karnataka Police has done a commendable job, arresting 12 people in the murder of Lankesh. They all belong to Sanatan, Hindu Janjargriti or Ram Sene.The information recovered from them led to the arrests and raids in Nalasopara, which also suggests a grave possibility of the four murders being linked to each other. If the police forces work sincerely without political interference, the plot could be unearthed and the mastermind caught. If they had made these headways in 2014, Pansare, Kalburgi and Lankesh would have probably been with us. But I hope that rest of the 26 intellectuals on the their terror list would be protected, courtesy the investigations.
On the other hand, however, Sanatan and other Hindutva extremists have started playing the victim card. Something they did even when Colonel Purohit and Pradnya Singh were arrested. The other day, in a rally in Nalasopara, they chanted slogans like, “Desh ka neta kaisa ho, Vaibhav Raut jaisa ho.”
Under the pretext of Hindu religion, the gathering merely exhibited brazen tactics to deflect attention from the facts. Raut had been making bombs in his house. Nobody asked how a man like that could claim to be a leader in any civilised country. Those defending him, rallying behind him are merely enabling more terrorists, who are the real threat to the country. Unless checked in time, they would not think twice before reducing the country into ashes.