Demanding investigation into the murder of noted anti-toll tax crusader and veteran CPI leader Govind Pansare, his wife Uma said he was shot down because of his beliefs, not personal enmity
Nearly a month after veteran CPI leader Govind Pansare was gunned down during a morning walk in Kolhapur, his wife Uma was finally discharged from the hospital where she was being treated for the injuries she had suffered in the attack.
Veteran communist leader Govind Pansare was gunned down on February 16, when he and his wife were returning home after a morning walk. His death sparked several protests demanding the arrest of his assailants and Uma said she would continue to march in the footsteps of her husband, Govind Pansare, and fight for his beliefs. File pics
Although she is convinced that her husband’s beliefs had incited the attack, Uma is determined to carry forward his legacy. “My husband was killed because of his progressive thoughts, not due to any personal enmity. I will continue to march in the footsteps of my husband, Comrade Pansare,” said Uma, who was discharged from Aster Aadhar Hospital in Kolhapur on March 4.
Govind and Uma Pansare were returning home from their morning walk on February 16, when two unidentified assailants on a motorbike shot at the anti-toll crusader five times. Before they escaped, they also pushed Uma to the ground.
Three of the bullets hit Govind, and he succumbed to his injuries in a Mumbai hospital four days later. Uma sustained a fracture on the left side of her skull, which has led to partial paralysis on her right side. However, she is able to speak. Uma was the sole eyewitness to the shooting incident and was the only person who got a proper glimpse of the assailants.
“We were wrapping up our morning walk as we had just learned that the former High Court Justice B G Kolse Patil would be visiting our house in 15 minutes. We were trying to get home early and were barely 50 metres away when two youths came on a motorbike, wearing shirts and jeans, and shot at my husband,” recalled Uma.
“I was trying to shield my husband, but I got hurt and fell unconscious after I felt a burning sensation on my head. My eyes were closed, but I could hear my husband screaming in pain,” she added. Last Wednesday, Uma was discharged from the hospital and sent home, where she and her family have been placed under police protection. She is now waiting to recover so she can carry on with Govind’s work.
“The doctors had told me about my husband’s death. I was shocked; for me, my survival was not as important, but my husband was the voice of many innocent and needy people who cannot fight for their rights. I am trying to recover quickly so that I can march on the path paved by my husband,” said Uma, who is the district secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women, apart from being a CPI member.
'Want SIT probe'
Govind and Uma’s daughter-in-law Megha, who is a Russian language professor at Shivaji University, said, “We demand justice; we want the police to zero down on the culprits. He (Govind Pansare) was a representative of deprived and underprivileged people.
He was a progressive thinker and he never had any personal grudges with anyone. We have demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) be constituted to probe the case as we have faith in the Kolhapur Police, as they interact with us every day for the case.”
A senior police officer told mid-day, “We are investigating the case and are on the right track. We cannot disclose more about the investigation. We are waiting for the ballistic report from the forensic department, after which the picture will become clearer.”
The officer said that more than 100 people had been interrogated and teams were sent to investigate in different states. “Uma, who witnessed everything, doesn’t speak much, and we do not want to strain her either, as per the doctor’s advice. We have prepared a sketch, but are in the process of modifying it,” the officer added.