Samir Gaikwad, the prime accused in the sensational killing of senior Communist leader Govind Pansare, was granted conditional bail by a court here on Saturday.
Gaikwad is an activist of the right-wing Sanatan Sansthan, who was arrested for the attack on Pansare and his wife Uma when they were on a morning walk on February 16, 2015. While Pansare, 82 succumbed four days later in a hospital, his wife survived.
A Sanatan Sanstha activist since 1998, Gaikwad was nabbed by the Kolhapur police and its Special Investigation Team on September 16, eight months after the killing and has remained in custody since then. He was later charge sheeted in the case and had applied for bail twice, which was rejected.
Arguing forcefully for his bail, Gaikwad's lawyers Samir Patwardhan and Virendra Ichalkaranjikar claimed that nearly two years after his arrest the police have yet to come up with credible evidence proving his involvement in the killing.
Strongly opposing the bail, Special Public Prosecutor Harshad Nimbalkar argued that if released on bail, the accused would attempt to influence witnesses in the case or even abscond.
While granting bail with a surety of Rs 25,000, District Sessions Judge L. D. Bile ordered the accused to surrender his passport, not enter Kolhapur district, not to leave Maharashtra, report to police every Sunday and provide his residential address to the court.
Expressing shock at the developments, Medha Pansare, the couple's daughter-in-law told media persons that the investigations are still underway and the government must immediately appeal against the bail order in the Bombay High Court.
Hamid Dabholkar, son of slain rationalist Narendra Dabholkar also urged police and the government to challenge Gaikwad's bail urgently before the high court.
Pansare, a veteran Communist leader, intellectual, writer and rationalist, and his wife were shot at by at least two unknown person near their home in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015. He was shifted to Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital, where he succumbed on February 20.
The brutal killings of Pansare, Dabholkar and later Prof. M. M. Kalburgi, had sent shockwaves across the country, with protests and demonstrations in Maharashtra and elsewhere seeking arrest of their killers.
Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune on June 20, 2013, followed by Pansare's killing in February 2015 and later the daylight shooting down of Kalburgi on August 30, 2015 near his home in Karnataka's Dharwad.
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