Pune: Dr Virendrasinh Tawde, according to the CBI, is the missing link in the killings of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, CPI leader Govind Pansare and scholar MM Kalburgi.
Dr Virendrasinh Tawde has been associated with right-wing Sanatan Sanstha since 2002
Investigative officer SR Singh told the judicial magistrate court (first class) here yesterday, where Tawde was produced following his arrest on Friday night, that investigations into the assassinations point at the same modus operandi. "The attackers came on black coloured motorcycles and used similar weapons.
All three who were gunned down were on their morning walks. Dr Tawde was in regular touch with Sarang Akolkar (a Sanatan Sanstha activist and prime accused in the 2009 Goa blasts case, whose role in the Dabholkar murder is also being looked into). The sketch prepared of Dabholkar's killer matches Akolkar. We can get clues on the whereabouts of other absconding activists of Santan Sanshta from Dr Tawde."
Handler of activists?
A CBI officer called Tawde the key conspirator in Dabholkar's killing. "He has been in touch with the absconding wanted from Sanatan since 2005 and for the last five years, with Akolkar. Both he and Akolkar met several times in Pune."
He said three mobile phones have been recovered from the ENT surgeon, one of which was used for secret communication. "Akolkar's house is just 1 km from the spot Dabholkar was gunned down at and the attacker is said to have ridden off in the direction of his house. The spot where Pansare was gunned down in Kolhapur was opposite Tawde's house," the officer told mid-day. He said Tawde was also in touch via email with Sameer Gaikwad, arrested last year for Pansare's killing.
Threat in 2004
The officer said a witness in the case had said in his statement that Tawde had in 2004, during a heated argument, expressed his desire to kill Dabholkar. Special public prosecutor, CBI, BP Raju asked the court for a week-long custody, arguing that Sanatan Sanstha has been silencing voices of rationalism.
Sanjeev Punalekar and Sushilkumar Pise, who argued on behalf on Tawde, said he is a social worker who has been falsely implicated in the case. They argued that an arrest cannot be made on a witness' testimony of a 2004 communication and mere suspicion. The court remanded Tawde in CBI custody till June 16.
When Magistrate NM Shaikh asked Tawde if he had any grievance, the doctor alleged that he had been slapped twice by a CBI officer and threatened with physical torture if he refused to cooperate with the investigation. "I am innocent," he told the court.