CBI makes first arrest in Dabholkar murder case

The accused was arrested late last night in Panvel near Mumbai and a court in Pune on Saturday sent him to CBI custody till June 16.

PTI| Updated: Jun 11, 2016, 23:18 PM IST

Pune: CBI has arrested Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member Virendrasing Tawde in connection with the murder of noted rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune in 2013, the first in the case by the agency.

He was arrested late last night in Panvel near Mumbai and a court in Pune today sent him to CBI custody till June 16.

The arrest prompted former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan to seek a ban on Goa-based radical Hindu group Sanatan Sanstha, which the Samiti has links with.

Sanatan Sanstha had come under the scanner for the murder of rationalist Govind Pansare in February 2015.

Tawde was produced before Judicial Magistrate N N Shaikh here and CBI had sought seven days custody to establish his links with other suspects.

CBI lawyer B P Raju said it had proof that Tawade interacted with other suspects through emails. It had also been established in the investigation that a black motorcycle was used by the assailants who shot Dabholkar and Pansare, and Tawde had a similar bike, he said.

Also, a witness had given a statement that Tawde had spoken against Dabholkar in 2004 and afterwards, he said.

Advocate Sanjiv Punalekar, Tawde's lawyer, said there was no need for seven days' custody as CBI had already grilled Tawde "for the last ten days" and there was no concrete evidence against his client.

After getting his custody, CBI took Tawde, an ENT surgeon, back to Panvel.

Dabholkar, a noted anti-superstition crusader, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Pune while he was out for a morning walk on August 20, 2013. The murder sent shockwaves through the state. In May 2014 Bombay High Court handed over the probe to CBI.

The agency had recovered some material during its earlier searches which brought the needle of suspicion to Tawde and Sarang Akolkar, against whom a Red Corner Notice was issued by Interpol in July 2012 in connection with the 2009 Goa blast case on the NIA's request, CBI sources said.

The residences of Tawde and Akolkar were searched by the agency which recovered several SIM cards, cell phones and data from computers. The two were investigated after the agency found some "cyber forensic evidence" about their alleged role in Dabholkar's murder.