The Special Investigation Team (SIT) from Kolhapur, investigating the murder case of communist leader Govind Pansare, has arrested three people related to the case. All three of them were in the custody of different agencies probing the murder cases of Narendra Dabholkar, M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. Sachin Andure, who was in judicial custody for allegedly shooting Dabholkar, along with Ganesh Miskin and Amit Baddi who were in Yerwada jail in Pune in the Nallasopara arms haul case and the shooting of Gauri Lankesh, are the three now arrested by the SIT in Pansare’s case.
One must note that there has been no real progress in the 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.
Also Read: Is the Probe into Pansare’s Murder Just Skimming the Surface?
In its 400-page chargesheet, the SIT had also named Amol Kale, Vasudev Suryawanshi, Bharat Kurne and Amit Digwekar. However, both Kale and Digwekar are named in other cases too. Kale, who was taken into custody by the Karnataka SIT in the case of Lankesh, is now known to be involved in planning all the four murders -- Dabholkar, Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Lankesh -- and also recruiting people to execute the plan.
The three arrested now are also members of Sanatan Sanstha, just as all the others been named in the case. Andure, Miskin and Baddi were produced in the Kolhapur Court on Friday. The Court was informed that the three were spotted near Pansare’s house before the murder. According to media reports, the SIT had asked for a 20 days of custody and the Court has allowed only 10 days, as the investigation is being carried out under the supervision of the Bombay High Court. In November 2018, the Mumbai High Court had questioned the 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. Thus, the long period of custody was refused.
Also Read: Delay in Investigations: What Are the CBI, CID and SIT up to?
Sharad Kalaskar, yet another sympathiser of the SS, is already in custody. He is said to have destroyed the weapons 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 SS – had called him to his office in June-July 2018. The lawyer is said to have asked Kalaskar to destroy the gun he used to allegedly murder Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi and Lankesh. Punalekar and his assistant Vikram Bhave were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on May 25, 2019 related to the case of Dabholkar and Punalekar is now out on bail.
Unlike the investigation in the case of Lankesh, the investigations in the cases of Pansare, Kalburgi and Dabholkar have had a lousy beginning. In the case of Pansare the SIT has taken four years to get to where it is now.
Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha Terror: Govind Pansare’s Assassination and Security Threat To Megha Pansare
Newsclick had noted earlier that it is the same set of men who are being named in all the cases by three different investigative agencies but the shooters are 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. Punalekar is the highest the investigative agencies have been able to reach. Why is this so? The question of who the mastermind behind these assassinations is, remains unanswered till date. On Friday, the SIT, according to a report in the Mumbai Mirror, said to the Court that Andure, Miskin and Baddi were associated with SS; so when SS is being named in the courts, why is the hesitation to investigate the organisation?