Kolhapur/New Delhi: Investigators probing the murder of rationalist and Left leader Govind Pansare suspect the role of two more members of right wing group Sanatan Sanstha who are absconding after the 2009 Goa blast with one of them believed be to the prime accused.
The Special Investigating Team (SIT) has launched a massive manhunt for Rudra Patil who it suspects is the prime accused even as the Centre today promised action against those involved in the murder of Pansare(82) in February this year.
The Shiv Sena, a key BJP ally, meanwhile said the ongoing probe in the Pansare murder case should not become a context for maligning Hindutva while holding that the accusations against Sanatan Sanstha, which is under the scanner in the case, are "laughable."
The two suspects - Rudra Patil and Sarang Akolkar alias Kulkarni - are absconding since the blast in Madgaon in Goa in which two activists of the Sanstha, Gonda Patil and Yogesh Naik, had succumbed to injuries when the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) they were carrying in a scooter--also owned by an outfit member--exploded prematurely at Madgaon in Goa on October 16, 2009.
"We also suspect Rudra as a prime accused in the Pansare murder case and have launched a manhunt to nab him," a police officer in Kolhapur said today on the condition of anonymity.
Sanatan Sanstha member Samir Gaikwad was arrested last week while three others - one from Mumbai and two from Karnataka - were detained in connection with the case.
"Investigation into the Call Data Records (CDR) of Samir Gaikwad has shown that he was in constant touch with Rudra and both had recced the place of Pansare's family in Kolhapur in January, a month before the CPI leader was shot dead," the officer said.
Rudra is Gonda Patil's cousin and a "big sympathiser" of the right wing outfit, the officer said, adding that more details in this regard would be officially revealed soon by the SIT.
Rudra's wife Preeti Patil is a lawyer and has shown an urge to fight Gaikwad's case as Kolhapur district bar association has already disassociated itself with it, he said.
Pansare and his wife, Uma, were shot at by two motorcycle-borne youths on February 16, 2015, near their home in Kolhapur. Pansare died four days later at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. His wife survived the attack, but suffered injuries that have crippled her.
Rudra along with Sarang have been declared absconders by National Investigation Agency (NIA) since the 2009 Goa blasts.
NIA has uploaded Rudra's profile on its website mentioning his address as Panchmukhi, Maruti Road, Gaonbhag, Sangli, Maharashtra and Flat No. 8, Dattakrupa Apartment, Joshi Gali, Gaonbhang, Sangli Maharashtra. However, no cash reward has been announced on him on the website.
Meanwhile, Sanatan Sanstha spokesman Abhay Vartak came out in support of Rudra Patil, saying he is "our driving force and we will be standing as a rock behind him".
"If activists are harassed or killed, it is a serious matter. If there are proofs of involvement of any group, action must be taken," Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said in Delhi replying to a question on police interrogating a Sanatan Sanstha member in the case.