- Shot Narendra Dabholkar in head from behind, then above eye: Accused
- Accused admits to being linked to Govind Pansare, Gauri Lankesh's murders
- Accused Sharad Kalaskar has been charged with murder and conspiracy
The man accused of killing rationalist Narendra Dabholkar six years ago, has told the Karnataka police how he shot the 67-year-old twice -- once in the head from behind, and when he fell, once above the right eye. In a chilling 14-page confession, a copy of which was accessed by NDTV, Sharad Kalaskar also admitted to being linked to two other murders -- that of rationalist Govind Pansare and journalist Gauri Lankesh.
Sharad Kalaskar, who was arrested last October in connection with another case, has been in jail, charged with conspiracy and murder of Gauri Lankesh. It was during questioning in this case that he mentioned details of Dabholkar's murder.
Several others have been accused in the murder of Dabholkar -- the first of the three rationalists killed while he was out on a morning walk. Dabholkar's murder in Pune, in August 2013, had been followed by the shooting of Govind Pansare in February 2015 and MM Kalburgi in Kolhapur in August the same year. Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru in September 2017.
The Maharashtra Anti-Terror squad had arrested Sharad Kalaskar in connection with raids at a pistol manufacturing unit at Nallasopara in Palghar district. During questioning, they stumbled upon information that established a link between the murders of the rationalists and Gauri Lankesh and right-wing groups. This information was later shared with the Karnataka police.
Recounting the events leading to the murder in his confession, Sharad Kalaskar said he was contacted by some right-wing members, given a crash course in ideology, use of firearms and the process of making bombs.
He was told that he would have to commit the murder. "We have to finish off some evil men," he claimed to have been told by Virandra Tawde -- allegedly the main conspirator -- and brainwashed into committing the murders. Virendrasinh Tawde has been arrested by the CBI and has been charged as well.
Sharad Kalaskar said Tawde told him to shoot Narendra Dabholkar in the head, so he died on the spot. He said he had carried out the instruction, intercepting Dr Dhabolkar as he was out on a morning walk on the Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune.
In the confession, he said he pulled out his country-made pistol and shot Dabholkar in the head from behind. As Dabholkar fell on the bridge, he fired a second shot, but the bullet got stuck.
He then removed the bullet and shot Dabholkar's blood-stained body above the right eye. After that, Sachin Andure, the second shooter who accompanied him, also opened fire.
According to the confession, Virendra Tawde introduced him to Amol Kale, who has been arrested in the Gauri Lankesh murder case. Sharad Kalaskar said he attended several meetings where the plan to kill Gauri Lankesh was hatched.
"In August 2016, there was a meeting in Belgaum, where the names of people working against Hinduism were asked for. In that meeting, the name of Gauri Lankesh came up and the decision to murder her was taken," he said in his confession.
A year later, in August 2017, there was another meeting where the plans were finalised and responsibilities were handed. Journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead a month later.
Sharad Kalaskar also revealed there was a plan to target retired Bombay High Court judge Justice BG Kolse Patil.