The Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad has stumbled upon several leads on rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh murder cases during its investigation of the terror conspiracy in which several arms and bombs were recovered.
After the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI and the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad or ATS seized a 7.65 bore pistol in Aurangabad following the interrogation of Sachin Andure, one of the shooters of Narendra Dabholkar, sources have told NDTV the other shooter Sharad Kalaskar, who led them to Andure, had travelled to Karnataka, to possibly conduct recce for Gauri Lankesh's murder.
Sources also say Sharad Kalaskar, who was arrested along with two others for illegally storing and manufacturing bombs and guns, has met Pune-based engineer Amol Kale several times who has been arrested by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) from Karnataka in connection with Gauri Lankesh's murder. Kale's home in Pune still has a signboard which mentions the Sanatan Sanstha. Investigators believe he was the mastermind in plotting Gauri Lankesh's murder in September last year.
The 7.65 mm bore pistol was recovered after interrogating Andure. Earlier two forensic laboratories in Gujarat and Bengaluru had held that of the two weapons used in the murder of Narendra Dabholkar, one was used to kill rationalist Govind Pansare and the other was used to kill rationalist MM Kalburgi and these weapons were also of 7.65mm bore. A similar weapon was used to murder Gauri Lankesh too.
But lawyers for the accused claim the police have no evidence to back these claims.
"The names of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh do not find a mention in the remand report. Only orally somethings are being told. The ATS is famous for its ill activities and today political propaganda is going on," Sanjiv Punalekar, the lawyer for Sharad Kalaskar told NDTV.
With these developments it is clear that what started as a probe into a terror conspiracy by the Maharashtra ATS after an arms haul has widened and is now throwing up leads in cases that investigators have been trying to solve for years. And these links that are emerging are now being investigated as the accused seem to be common and have links to the same extreme right wing groups in all these conspiracies.