Narendra Dabholkar murder case: Key suspect arrested by CBI

Mumbai: In a major breakthrough, CBI on Saturday arrested a key suspect in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.

According to CBI, the arrested individual –Sachin Prakashrao Andure– was allegedly one of the shooters who fired at Narendra Dabholkar on August 20, 2013 in Pune while he was out for his morning walk. Andure was arrested from Aurangabad.

“Sachin Prakashrao Andure of Aurangabad is one of the two persons who shot at Narendra Dabholkar. Further investigations are underway”, a CBI official said.

The arrest comes days after the Bombay High Court came down heavily on central and state agencies probing the killings of Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, also a rationalist reviled by right-wing groups for their campaign against superstition.

The authorities were showing no urgency despite the country witnessing a “tragic phase” where one cannot speak or move around freely, the court said earlier this month.

“This is an important development after five years – and two and a half years since the first arrest in the case. This has been possible only because of the Bombay High Court’s close monitoring of the case and the sustained efforts of the organisation Dr Dabholkar founded, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS),” Narendra Dabholkar’s son Hamid Dabholkar said.

Saying that they were not satisfied with the probe, the judges hearing the case returned the “confidential reports” submitted by the Maharashtra Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with an observation that there was “nothing confidential” in those reports.

While Dabholkar was killed in 2013 in Pune, Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur and died from his injuries a few days later on February 20. The CBI and Maharashtra’s Criminal Investigation Department are probing the killings of Mr Dabholkar and Pansare, respectively.

Earlier this month, MANS had started a campaign to demand answers from the government over the lack of progress in the Dabholkar probe. The campaign “Jawab Do” has been running on several social media platforms and is scheduled to run till August 20, the day that marks five years since the murder.

“We hope the CBI will uncover the root of the conspiracy and ensure exemplary punishment for those behind my father’s murder and other cases like the murder of Pansare, [rationalist MM] Kalburgi and [journalist] Gauri Lankesh as well,” Hamid Dabholkar said.

Right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha has been accused of links to the crime while the CBI had arrested alleged conspirator Virendra Tawde, on June 10, 2016. Tawde, a doctor who worked actively for the radical Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, is also a key accused in the murder of Pansare. He has been given bail in the Pansare murder case.