MUMBAI — Recent investigation reports have confirmed that the killers behind the murder of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, M M Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh, are the members of same gang linked with Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha and its offshoot Hindu Janjagruti Samiti.
“During the investigation, it came to light that a gang of like-minded people was involved in the killings of Dabholkar, Lankesh and Kalburgi. Almost all members of this gang have links with the Sanatan Sanstha and its offshoot Hindu Janjagruti Samiti,” an unnamed police official was quoted as saying news agency PTI.
“The probe so far indicates that those arrested in connection with the seizure of a huge cache of explosives from Nallasopara in Palghar district of Maharashtra have direct links with the killings of Dabholkar, Kalburgi and Lankesh,” he told.
Dabholkar, Kalburgi and Lankesh were vocal against Hindutva outfits and saffron extremism. Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune in 20th August 2013. Kalburgi was shot dead at the entrance of his house in Karnataka’s Dharwad district on 30th August 2015. Lankesh was killed also at the entrance of her house in Bengaluru on 5th September 2017.
Another rationalist Pansare was shot at on 16th February 2015 in Kolhapur of Maharashtra and he succumbed to his injuries four days later on 20th February. However, the police official said that the investigating agencies have yet to establish the Hindutva group’s link with the killing of Pansare and efforts are on to nab the criminals. The Maharashtra Police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) is probing Pansare’s killing.
Last month, during investigation, the Maharashtra Police had arrested at least ten people and said that one of among them named Sharad Kalaskar admitted to his involvement in Dabholkar’s killing. On this information, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing Dabholkar’s killing, arrested Sachin Andure from Aurangabad.
The official said that Kalaskar and Andure allegedly shot dead Dabholkar with two pistols in Pune.
“During our investigation, it came to light that Tawade played a major role in the planning and execution of the three assassinations (Dabholkar, Lankesh and Kalburgi),” the official claimed.
In June this year, the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) arrested one Amol Kale in connection with Lankesh’s murder and seized a diary from him which had the names of several “targets”, including Lankesh.
The official further said that this diary had names and mobile numbers of the other group members including Vaibhav Raut, Sudhanva Gondhalekar, Sharad Kalaskar and others.
Besides, the Maharashtra ATS this past Wednesday (12th September) also took Bharat Kurne and Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen in the custody, who were originally arrested by the Karnataka SIT in Lankesh’s killing case, in connection with the seizure of explosives from different parts of the state. Sujeet Kumar is also wanted in connection with Kalburgi’s killing.
After Lankesh’s killing, several activists had claimed some links between her killers and those of Dabholkar and Kalburgi.