Pune: Dr Virendra Tawde, arrested by the CBI on the charge conspiring the killing of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, and Sarang Akolkar, another accused in the case who is also wanted in the 2009 Goa blast case, allegedly underwent training together to handle arms and ammunition in Jat village in Sangli, Ponda in Goa and Sinhagad fort in Pune from 2010-12.
A CBI official said the two also procured three country-made pistols as part of an Akhand Hindu Rashtra mission, a vision they hoped to achieve by 2023.
Tawde and Akolkar had allegedly hatched the plan to kill Dabholkar in 2009 itself, but it was put off after the Margao blast. After the assassination plan hit a bump, the two allegedly diverted their resources to attract people to Santan Sanstha’s ideologies.
The CBI official said investigation agencies had shadowed Tawde from March. “The Pune city police, which is also working on the case, had given us information of Tawde being in touch with Akolkar three months ago. We began tracking down his movements since then.” He said Tawde and Akolkar were the conspirators of the killings of CPI leader Govind Pansare and scholar MM Kalburgi as well. CBI sources said Akolkar, who has been on the run since the Goa blast, had been traced to Nepal in 2012.
7 on watch list
The emails of Tawde that the CBI scouring through lists the names of some seven Sanstha sadhaks (followers) involved in terror/anti-social activities. “Based on footages from CCTV cameras near the spot at Omkareshwar bridge in Pune, where Dabholkar was gunned down during his morning walk, and other leads, we found out that around three sadhaks from the Goa ashram of the Sanstha were in the vicinity of the murder spot on the day of the killing,” said the CBI official.
Tawde was allegedly drawn to the ideologies of the Sanstha in 2001 during his search for a guru. “He had followed various philosophies, but found no satisfaction in them. He joined the Sanstha and found his calling there,” said the official.
The surgeon allegedly envisioned in 2008 an Akhand Hindu Rashtra, a target he wanted to achieve by 2023.
Wanted to kill in Satara
Another CBI officer said Tawde and Akolkar had initially conspired to kill Dabholkar at his hometown in Satara in 2009, but changed the plan due to “transport problems”. They then studied the anti-superstition crusader’s routine in Pune, which he frequently visited and where his publishing house was situated, and hatched a new plan. “They chose to kill him in Pune itself since Akolkar, who hails from the same city, was well versed with the lay of the land,” she said. She added that the recent raid at Tawde’s Panvel house revealed that he had also played significant roles in the Margao blast and the explosion in 2008 at a Thane theatre during the performance of Amhi Panchpute, a satirical play on the Mahabharata. “We have found many photographs of whom the Sanstha called ‘anti Hindus’, marked as ‘daanav’ (demon). Some, including those of policemen, had a red cross marked on them.”
Wife’s return awaited
The CBI is waiting for the return of Tawde’s wife, Nidhi, from England, where she reportedly works as a surgeon. The couple’s 14-year-old daughter, a student of a Mumbai-based school, is spending the summer vacation with Nidhi. Both are expected to return by June 20. “From the couples’ relatives, we learnt that Tawde tortured his wife. Neither did he consult her nor did he call her or their daughter for any of the Sanstha events, even when he was felicitated by the organisation. Many a time, she slept on an empty stomach at home waiting for his return,” said the CBI official.
A CBI team, along with other investigative agencies which are probing the killings of Kalburgi and Pansare, arrived in Pune yesterday to question Dr Tawde. The ENT surgeon will be produced before the special court today to seek an extension of his CBI custody, which lapses today.