Kolhapur: The Maharashtra Police have launched a massive manhunt to nab the assailants who shot senior CPI leader Govind Pansare and his wife in Kolhapur.
Reports said that as many as 20 teams have been formed under the direct supervision of the Director General of Police to crack the case. An ACP level officer has been made in-charge of the investigation, reports added.
The Kolhapur Police are tracing all known history-sheeters in the city even as teams have been sent out nearby towns like Satara and Sangli.
Five persons have been detained "on ground of suspicion" in this connection late last evening, a senior police official said but refused to comment any further.
Meanwhile, Govind Pansare is said to be recovering well to medical care but his condition remains critical.
"Pansare is critical but stable," Aster Aadhar Hospital's Chief Medical Officer Dr Ulhas Damle said.
"Pansare underwent three operations yesterday which lasted for about eight hours. A team of nine doctors operated upon him and managed to remove a bullet lodged in his chest after he was shot in the armpit. The bleeding from the injury in his neck was also controlled. He was later shifted to the ICU," he said.
However, there has been some damage to his lungs because of which he has been kept on ventilator. But his pulse and blood pressure are stable and kidneys are functioning normally, Damle said.
Pansare's wife Uma was also operated last evening for a fracture on right side of the skull. She is now conscious and being treated in the ICU, the CMO said.
Pansare and wife were shot by motorcycle-borne around 8 am on Monday outside their home in Ideal Housing Society, when the two were returning after their daily morning walk from Shivaji University.
While Pansare was hit by bullets on the nape of his neck and another brushing his hand, his wife Sau Uma Pansare suffered a single bullet.
82- year old Pansare, a lawyer and writer, was leading a campaign against the collection of toll in Maharashtra. Fifteen days ago he was threatened and abused for speaking against the glorification of Nathuram Godse at a gathering.
The attack comes almost a year-and-half since the murder of noted rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, who was also shot in a similar manner during a morning walk in Pune. The case remains unsolved.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has expressed shock at the incident and assured that sppedy probe will be carried out to arrest the guilty.
Condemning the incident, CPI (M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said such incidents are "becoming a sort of a routine matter" in Maharashtra.
"Yes, he was leading an agitation of Left parties against toll taxes...That has been a very popular and a very big agitation and surely there are vested interests who would lose because of this. They may be targeting.
"Also he has written a very popular book on projection of Shivaji and what actually the history was and how these are being used by all these Hindu communal outfits mainly Shiv Sena and the BJP. So that could also be one of the reasons," Yechury said.
"So whatever be the actual reasons, proper investigation has to be done," he said. He said the CPI (M) has given a state-wide protest call against the attack.
The incident triggered outrage and many senior leaders, including Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Leader of Opposition in state Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, had condemned the attack on Pansare.