Exactly five years since rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead by bike-borne shooters in Pune, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sources say they have finally been able to arrest the men who pumped bullets into him. The 67-year-old was on morning walk when he was shot dead from point blank range on August 20, 2013.
After the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested three men in connection with the recovery of bombs and guns, their interrogation led to a major breakthrough in the Dabholkar murder. Sharad Kasalkar, who was arrested along with Vaibhav Raut and Sudhanva Gondhalekar after the arms haul at Nallasopara was interrogated by the ATS and he provided several inputs in the Dabholkar case which has been passed on to the CBI, sources added.
After the interrogation, Sachin Prakasrao Andure was arrested from Aurangabad, sources told NDTV. According to the CBI, Andure was allegedly one of the shooters who fired at Narendra Dabholkar.
The other shooter, according to CBI sources, is Kasalkar himself. Sources say the CBI has taken Andure to the spot where Dabholkar was shot, the Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune, to verify the sequence of events and reconstruct the entire crime. The CBI says Kasalkar and Andure had recced the area 10 days before the crime.
The arrests made by the Maharashtra ATS have been significant since these extreme right-wing men have been accused of plotting terror attacks in five cities of Maharashtra. But their interrogation has been helpful for the CBI as it has provided leads about the probe into murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar as the individuals involved in these crimes are believed to be working for the same organisation.
According to the CBI, the accused also have links to another Pune-based man arrested by the special investigation team in Karnataka that is probing the shooting of Bangalore-based journalist Gauri Lankesh. The CBI may seek custody of this individual as well.
The interrogation of Andure and Kasalkar has also revealed the plot to kill Dabholkar took four years before it was finally executed in 2013. The CBI sources say they have been able to verify that the duo arrived in Pune from Aurangabad on August 19 in a state transport bus and returned to Aurangabad after killing Dabholkar.
Sources say, not only has the Maharshtra ATS foiled a major right-wing plot to carry out 'explosions', but they have also managed to ensure that the shooters of Dabholkar are arrested with their inputs from the interrogation of the suspects arrested in connection with the arms haul.