Dabholkar murder: CBI submits list of 32 witnesses to be examined

Meanwhile, advocate Suvarna Avhad Vast, representing the accused persons, submitted an application before the court seeking details including the recording of the post-mortem of Dabholkar’s body as well as photographs and X-ray reports of the dead body from the investigation agency.

The CBI Wednesday submitted before a special court in Pune a list of 32 witnesses to be examined during the trial in the Dr Narendra Dabholkar murder case.

Advocate Prakash Suryawanshi, the special public prosecutor in this case, submitted the list of witnesses maintaining that it may add more witnesses as and when required.

Special court of additional sessions judge S R Navandar accepted the list of witnesses and posted the matter for hearing on October 29. The court said two witnesses pertaining to the inquest panchnama and the search at the house where Dabholkar was staying in Pune would be examined on the next day of hearing.

The court also asked the prosecution and defence lawyers to fix dates for examination of witnesses. Accordingly, the court said that after October 29, more witnesses would further be examined during the next hearings on 13th, 20th and 27th of November and 4th, 11th, 18th, 19th and 25th of December.

Meanwhile, advocate Suvarna Avhad Vast, representing the accused persons, submitted an application before the court seeking details including the recording of the post-mortem of Dabholkar’s body as well as photographs and X-ray reports of the dead body from the investigation agency.

Dabholkar, a rationalist and founder of the anti-superstition organisation Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), was shot dead by two assailants while he was on a morning walk on the V R Shinde Bridge in the heart of Pune on August 20, 2013. He was 67.

The first arrests in the Dabholkar murder case made by Pune City Police were of Manish Nagori, an alleged firearms peddler, and his aide Vilas Khandelwal in January 2014. After a few months, the duo was released on bail by the court and were never chargesheeted in the case.

The CBI, which took over the probe from Pune City Police in 2014, has till now chargesheeted five accused, all of them allegedly linked to the radical outfit Sanatan Sanstha. These include ENT surgeon Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, two alleged assailants Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, Mumbai-based lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar and his aide Vikram Bhave, who were arrested at different times between 2016 and 2019. Of these, Tawade, Andure and Kalaskar are currently in jail while Punalekar and Bhave are out on bail.

On September 15, 2021, the special Court had framed charges against four accused persons Tawade, Andure, Kalaskar and Bhave — for murder, conspiracy to commit murder along with Section 16 of the UAPA pertaining to act of terrorism and various provisions of the Arms Act for the use of firearms. Besides, the court had charged Punalekar for destruction of evidence in the case. All five accused have pleaded not guilty.

CBI had in its chargesheet against Tawade in September 2016, named absconding Sanatan Sanstha members Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as the two assailants who shot Dabholkar dead. But in August 2018, CBI arrested Andure and Kalaskar and named them as shooters. Tawade was earlier arrested in connection with the murder of communist leader Govind Pansare at Kolhapur on February 20, 2015.

CBI had also arrested three others — Amol Kale, Amit Digwekar and Rajesh Bangera – in the Dabholkar murder case but have not chargesheeted them yet. The three along with Kalaskar, are also accused in the 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru.

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