CBI begins hunt for 'ex-army man' who trained Narendra Dabholkar's killers

Officials also say one of the shooters’ sketch matches 45% with Akolkar’s and that he could have been one of the assailants who shot the rationalist

Pune: In a trail of discoveries the CBI is making since the arrest of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member Virendra Tawde in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, the latest is the involvement of a shooter. The investigation agency suspects that the two bike-borne assailants who shot the anti-superstition crusader received training from a former defence personnel and have launched a manhunt for him.

The sketches of Dabholkar’s murderers that were made with the help of a witness
The sketches of Dabholkar’s murderers that were made with the help of a witness

A CBI official said, “Looking at the way Dabholkar was gunned down, it seems like the shooters were trained. We suspect that they were trained by a former defence personnel as they have expertise in handling guns. The local police have interrogated every ace shooter, but have got no positive outcome.”

The agency also suspects that Margao blast prime accused Sarang Akolkar was one of the assailants who shot Dabholkar, who received one injury on the head and three on his chest. The official said, “The sketch of the murderer, made in 2014 with the help of a witness, is a 45% match with that of Akolkar. So, we suspect that he was one of the assailants on the bike.”

There are two CBI teams working on different probe angles — one dedicated to looking into clues they have stumbled upon and the other into reports of firearm training in Goa, Sangli, Pune and Nashik.

In the raids the CBI conducted at the residences of Tawde and Akolkar, it had found evidence supporting their case. The agency said it found that Tawde’s Panvel house is owned by one Madhav Gadgil, a member of Sanatan Sanstha. It also recovered around 13 mobile handset boxes from his place, along with 15 CDs and diaries of 1994 and 2009, which had information on a few anti-superstition crusaders. From Akolkar’s house, they recovered a few letters, dated between January 17 and 20, and electricity bills with cheque details.

The agency also said while scanning Tawde’s emails, it found that he has been in touch with Akolkar as well as another Margao blast accused and Sanstha member Rudragouda Patil, who is also suspected of murdering scholar MM Kalburgi.

“Tawde is not cooperating with the investigation. Most of the time, he is either chanting prayers or is meditating. If this continues, we plan to ask the court to allow us to conduct polygraph and narco tests on him,” said the official.

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