Verdict by Pune court in Narendra Dabholkar murder case likely on Friday

09:25 AM May 10, 2024 | PTI |

A special court for UAPA cases here is likely to pronounce the verdict in the murder case of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar on Friday.


Dabholkar (67), a well-known anti-superstition crusader, was shot dead while on a morning walk on Omkareshwar Bridge here on August 20, 2013.

Additional sessions judge A A Jadhav of the special court for cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is likely to pronounce the judgement on Friday, said special public prosecutor Prakash Suryawanshi. The prosecution examined 20 witnesses while the defence examined two witnesses during the trial.

The accused were opposed to Dabholkar’s crusade against superstition, the prosecution had stated in its final arguments. The case was initially probed by Pune Police. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the probe in 2014 following a Bombay High Court order, and arrested Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, an ENT surgeon linked to the Hindu right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha, in June 2016.

According to the prosecution, Tawade was one of the masterminds of the murder.


Sanatan Sanstha, to which Tawade and some of the other accused were linked, was opposed to the work carried out by Dabholkar’s organisation, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (committee for eradication of superstition, Maharashtra), it claimed. The CBI first named fugitives Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as the shooters in its charge sheet.

But later it arrested Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, and claimed in a supplementary charge sheet that they had shot Dabholkar. Subsequently, the central agency arrested advocate Sanjeev Punalekar and Vikram Bhave as alleged co-conspirators.

During the trial, advocate Virendra Ichalkaranjikar, one of the defence lawyers, had questioned the CBI’s flip-flop over the shooters’ identity. The accused were booked under Indian Penal Code sections 120 B (conspiracy ), 302 (murder), relevant sections of the Arms Act, and section 16 (Punishment for terrorist act ) of the UAPA.

While Tawade, Andure and Kalaskar are in jail, Punalekar and Bhave are out on bail.

Dabholkar’s murder was followed by the murders of three other rationalists/activists in the next four years: communist leader Govind Pansare (Kolhapur, February 2015), Kannada scholar and writer M M Kalburgi (Dharwad, August 2015) and journalist Gauri Lankesh (Bengaluru, September 2017). It was suspected that the culprits in these four cases were linked to each other.


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