Nearly three years after rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune, the CBI has made its first breakthrough, with the arrest of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) member Virendra Tawde. The arrest comes a little over a week after the cops raided Tawde’s Panvel residence in connection with the Dabholkar murder case.
For the Dabholkar family, this is proof that Hindu right-wing forces were behind the murder. HJS is associated with right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha. Apart from Tawde’s house, the CBI had also raided the Pune house of alleged Sanatan Sanstha member Sarang Akolkar. The cops are currently on the lookout for Akolkar, who has been absconding for years. Akolkar is also a suspect in the 2009 Margao blast case.
Dabholkar’s son, Dr Hameed Dabholkar, said the CBI should now expedite investigations. “The first breakthrough has come almost three years after the murder. We suspected from the very beginning that the Sanatan Sanstha is connected to the murder. If the assailants had been arrested earlier, the lives of two other rationalists — Comrade Govind Pansare and Prof MM Kalburgi — could have been saved. Now we want all culprits booked.”
Dabholkar’s daughter Mukta said that the murders of the three rationalists were similar and likely executed by people with common links.
“The agencies have been saying that all three murders are linked with each other. I expect the CBI to expose the people involved,” she said. She added that Tawde was a sadhak of Sanatan Sanstha and that the organisation has finally been exposed.
Tawde was picked up from his house in Panvel and taken to the CBI headquarters for interrogation, and was arrested at 8.40 pm last evening. A CBI spokesperson confirmed the arrest and said he will be produced in Pune District Court today.
A CBI official said, “Last week, we had conducted a raid in Sarang Akolkar’s house in Pune and Dr Tawade’s house in Panvel, which is near Sanatan Sanstha. During the house search, we found crucial documents, along with some phone numbers, email communication and chats between Tawde and Akolkar. During the investigation, it has been noticed that Akolkar’s house is just a kilometre away from the spot where Dr Dabholkar was gunned down. The sketch prepared in this murder case also bears a similarity to Akolkar.”
Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead by two bike-borne assailants on August 20, 2013 on the Omkareshwar bridge behind Balgandharva Rangmandir in Pune. The case was initially investigated by the local Deccan Police, but in May 2014, the Bombay High Court ordered the CBI to take over.