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Dabholkar murder probe: AAP leader points fingers at Sanatan Sanstha

Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashish Khetan said the absconding Sanatan Sanstha members are prime suspects in the murder case and are wanted in other cases as well

While the Pune police has put its hands up when it comes to solving the murder of anti-superstition crusader Narendra Dabholkar, and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is yet to make any headway either, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashish Khetan pointed towards four sadhaks, or members of Sanatan Sanstha, suggesting they were involved in the killing.

Ashish Khetan
Ashish Khetan had earlier written an article in a news magazine alleging that Pol and his investigative team had attempted a séance to find clues in the Dabholkar murder case.  File Pic

The Hindu organisation was in the news earlier for gloating over Dabholkar’s death, and again when one of its members was taken into custody for his suspected involvement in the murder. On Wednesday, Khetan pointed to four other members — Sarang Akolkar, Rudra Patil, Jaiprakash Hegde and Praveen Limkar, who have been absconding for the past six years after receiving weapons training.

Actors Naseeruddin Shah and Amol Palekar
Actors Naseeruddin Shah and Amol Palekar in a march to protest lack of progress in the murder probe. Pic/PTI

“The Sanatan Sanstha is the prime suspect in the Dabholkar murder case. Red corner notices have been issued against the four suspects and they are wanted in several other cases, including a bomb blast case. Investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has revealed that these four absconding suspects had received training in handling weapons and explosives. Hence we demand that these suspects be arrested immediately either by the NIA or the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS),” Khetan said while addressing a press conference.

Rally
Hundreds participated in the rally on Wednesday to mark Narendra Dabholkar’s death a year ago. They gathered at the same pot where he was killed, at the Maharshi Shinde bridge in Narayan Peth. Pic/PTI

Khetan and other AAP leaders participated in a protest march against the failure of Pune police and the CBI to arrest the killers of Dr Dabholkar in the year following his death. Dr Dabholkar was shot dead on the Maharshi Shinde bridge in front of Omkareshwar temple in Narayan Peth on August 20, 2013.

Vested interests hurt
Emphasising on the urgent need for justice, Khetan said, “The CBI team is short-staffed and starved of resources while investigating the Dabholkar murder case. The conspiracy behind the murder must be revealed and AAP will strive for justice in this case.”

“Similar to the murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty, there are some vested interests in this case which were affected by Dabholkar’s work. The CBI should not file a closure report in the Dabholkar case as it did in the Shetty murder case, as this would set a very disturbing pattern,” he added.

Harassment tactics
Turning to the other issue at hand — the Rs 100 crore defamation case filed against him by former Pune Police Commissioner Gulabrao Pol, Khetan called it a harassment tactic.

In July this year, Khetan had written an article for a news magazine, alleging that the Pune police (then headed by Pol) had attempted to use superstitious rituals, including summoning the deceased Dabholkar’s spirit for clues to the murder investigation. While an investigation was launch against Pol and the investigating team, Pol filed the suit against Khetan and the editor of the news magazine.

Khetan said that the defamation notice and his threat of filing a criminal case in Kolhapur was meant for his harassment. “They want me to travel frequently from Delhi to Kolhapur, instead of Pune in connection with the legal case. This is a very disturbing trend that was started two years ago by politicians, corporates and officers for the sole purpose of harassment. I have no personal enmity with Mr Pol, but I’m fighting against the system,” he said.

He also claimed that he had faced a similar uncooperative attitude while recording his statement with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), during investigations of the séance allegations involving Pol, self-styled godman Manish Thakur and other former senior police officials. Khetan said one of six CID officers was biased against his statement, asking him to come up with evidence to support it. “Instead of demanding evidence from me, they should collect evidence like call records between Pol, Thakur, and former ACP Ranjit,” he said.

Marching for justice

Hundreds of students, social activists and Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) workers took to the streets on Wednesday morning to protest against the killing of MANS founder and noted anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar exactly a year ago on August 20, 2013.

protest march

Raising slogans such as ‘Dr Narendra Dabholkar amar rahe’, the rally gathered at the spot where Dabholkar was shot dead, at the Maharshi Shinde bridge in front of Omkareshwar temple.

Noted actors such as Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak-Shah, Sonali Kulkarni, Amol Palekar, Sandhya Gokhale, director Nagraj Manjule, thespian Atul Pethe, Supreme Court Justice Hemant Gokhale (Retired) and others participated in the protest march from Maharshi Shinde bridge to the Pune Municipal Corporation building, and later towards the Manohar Mangal Karyalay in Erandwane.

Addressing the gathering, Naseeruddin Shah said, “Every person in the society can have different thoughts but at the same time it is the right of every person to put forth his thoughts. Dr Dabholkar’s murder is like murdering the rationalist thinking process.”

Sonali Kulkarni expressed her anguish over the fact that the killers of Dabholkar had not been arrested even after a year had passed. “In a progressive state like Maharashtra, Dabholkar’s murder means some people tried to kill his thoughts. Some people also tried to spread misunderstanding about Dabholkar, and we need to stop such people.”

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