Ex-caretaker of Sanatan's Miraj ashram under lens

Jun 18, 2016, 08:58 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

Sleuths connecting the dots between Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi killings and the roles of Sangli and Satara

Pune: Another doctor and Sanatan Sanstha sadhak, this time from Miraj in Sangli district, has come under the lens of the CBI, probing the killing of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.

Virendra Tawde's email exchanges have thrown up crucial leads in the case
Virendra Tawde's email exchanges have thrown up crucial leads in the case

According to a senior CBI officer, Dr Virendra Tawde, suspected to be mastermind of the assassination, had exchanged a number of emails with Dr Durgesh Samant, a former caretaker of the Sanstha’s ashram in Miraj. “The ashram was looked after by Samant and his wife, Vaishali. The two are now separated. We are probing his role in the Dabholkar killing.”

The CBI suspects that the Miraj ashram, set up in the 1990s, was “a sleeper cell” of the Sanstha and that a number of “disruptive activities” had been handled by it in the past.

The Sanstha had come on the investigators’ radar for its link to the Miraj riots of 2009. Malgounda Patil, one of the two Sanstha members who died in the Madgaon blast that same year, had been in Miraj for two weeks when the construction of a controversial arch in the town sparked off communal riots. The Sanstha had been accused of distributing weapons during the riots.

Focus on Satara, Sangli
Satara and Sangli are the focal points of the CBI investigation. Links to the two districts keep coming up during the probe, especially because of its close proximity to Kolhapur, Satara and Goa — all of which have thrown up crucial leads.

The sleuths suspect that a sadhak, Vinay Pawar from Umbraj village in Karad taluka of Satara district provided logistics support and shelter to Madgaon blast conspirators as well as had a hand in Dabholkar’s killing.

Besides, Tawde and Sarang Akolkar, the prime accused in the Madgaon blast and the Dabholkar killing, had allegedly undergone arms and ammunition training together in Jat village in Sangli.

Rudragouda Patil and Malgounda Patil, who were killed when the bomb they were carrying went off prematurely in Madgaon, were also from Sangli, said the CBI officer. “Most of the sadhaks working on missions visited government and police units in Sangli under the guise of being reporters.”

One team is concentrating solely on this Satara-Sangli link.

Belgaum link
Another CBI team, along with the CID and a Special Investigation Team, is looking into the Sankeshwar-Belgaum highway being used as the entry/escape route by the killers of Dabholkar, CPI leader Govind Pansare and scholar MM Kalburgi. “This route is connected to national and state highways, which connect to Sangli, Belgaum, Kolhapur, Satara and Goa,” said the officer.

Pawar covered up tracks
Pawar, who is suspected to have provided logistics support to the Sanstha’s ‘disruptive’ activities, was allegedly skilled in doing the groundwork prior to operations and covering up the tracks after their completion. His family, which hails from Patas village in Daund taluka in Pune and moved to Umraj in Satara district in 1991, owns a brick manufacturing unit. and shifted to Karad in 1991. Pawar allegedly ran away from his home in 2007and became a sadhak. His aged parents said they had no idea of Pawar’s alleged involvement in terror activities.

Witnesses identify assailants
A sculptor from Kolhapur and former member of the Sanatan Sanstha has come forward, claiming that Tawde and Akolkar had met him once, seeking cartridges for guns. On Wednesday, he identified Akolkar from a set of 10 photographs as the man who had met him then.

A Std X student from Kolhapur has also come forward as an eyewitness in the Pansare killing, claiming that he had seen the assailants fleeing the spot after gunning down the CPI leader. He had been given police security.


Pansare killing a hired hit?

While the CBI feels that Dabholkar and Kalburgi’s assassinations were prompted by ideological differences, it suspects that it undertook Pansare’s killing on a contract to raise funds for its activities, like raising a 15,000-strong army of sainiks. “This will become clear once Tawde spills the beans,” said the CBI officer.

Sanstha’s mandate: Steal or rob to raise funds for own army

Delhi: The CBI has zeroed in on a particular email exchanged between Virendra Tawde and Sarang Akolkar. According to CBI sources, in one of the emails, Tawde told Akolkar that even if they (the sadhaks) are required to steal or rob, they must acquire money to procure weapons for the 15,000-strong army needed to build an Akhand Hindu Rashtra.

As part of this mission, the Sanstha allegedly planned to set up weapons manufacturing unit and or procure arms from elsewhere, for which it needed to raise huge funds. The CBI will send these emails for forensic analysis to confirm that it involves Tawde.

The agency has also seized some computers and laptops from the houses of Tawde and Akolkar and will send them for analysis to find out if anything crucial to the probe was deleted. The agency may take the assistance of its cyber experts in retrieving deleted items.

The CBI sources said Tawde had as many as eight email accounts for communication.

— Amit Kumar

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