A local court in Kolhapur on Friday extended judicial custody of Sachin Andure, Ganesh Miskin and Amit Baddi till October 4 in connection with the 2015 murder case of veteran communist leader Govind Pansare.
Earlier, on September 6, Andure, Miskin and Baddi were produced in the Kolhapur sessions court. The court was informed that the three were spotted near Pansare’s house before the murder.
According to reports, the SIT had asked for a 20-day custody; while the court had allowed only 10 days, as the investigation is being carried out under the supervision of the Bombay High Court.
In November 2018, the Bombay High Court had questioned the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Maharashtra SIT for delaying the investigation into the murders of activists Dabholkar and Pansare, and is now monitoring the cases to ensure speedy investigation.
Now that the court has agreed to extend the custody, according to a report by The Hindu, “Andure will be sent back to Yerwada Central Jail in Pune, where he is being held for Dabholkar’s murder, while Miskin and Baddi will be shifted to Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail, where they are being lodged in connection with the 2018 Nallasopara arms haul case.”
Pansare was attacked by two unidentified gunmen in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015. He died on February 20. He was a member of the Communist Party of India and a supporter of Dabholkar’s rationalist movement. He was a vehement critic of Hindutva organisations. An SIT had implicated Virendra Tawde, Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar – suspects in the Dabholkar murder case – in the Pansare case as well, in 2016. Here too, Tawade was named as a key conspirator, and Akolkar and Pawar were suspected of firing at Pansare. However, Tawade was granted bail by the Kolhapur court in 2018; and both Akolkar and Pawar have been absconding since the Margao blast in 2009. The three arrested so far, now are also members of Sanatan Sanstha, just as all the others named in the case.
Also Read: New Arrests in Govind Pansare’s Case are Not New After all
All three are named in the murder cases of Dr. Narendra Dabholar, M M Kalnurgi and Gauri Lankesh. The CBI has named Andure as one of the shooters in the case of Dabholar; he was arrested in the infamous Nallasopara arms haul case; and both Miskin and Baddi have been named in the murder case of Gauri Lakesh.
Sharad Kalaskar, a Sanatan Sanstha sympathiser is the other person now in the custody of the e Maharashtra SIT. Kalaskar is said to have destroyed the weapons that were allegedly used to shoot at Pansare and his wife. As NewsClick had reported earlier, Kalaskar has confided in the Karnataka SIT that Sanjeev Punalekar – the lawyer of Sanatan Sanstha (SS) – had called him to his office in June-July 2018. The lawyer is said to have asked Kalaskar to destroy the gun used to allegedly murder Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. Punalekar and his assistant Vikram Bhave were arrested by the CBI on May 25, 2019, but are now out on bail.
NewsClick had earlier reported that it is the same set of men who were being named in all the cases by three different investigative agencies, but the shooters are purportedly different in each case. However, the shooter in the case of Pansare has still not been named. It is also important to note that the arrests made so far do not go higher up the ranks of the hardline Hindutva organisations.
Also Read: Is the Probe into Pansare’s Murder Just Skimming the Surface?