In a major development in the murder case of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, the CBI on Wednesday named a right-wing medico as the alleged prime conspirator.
The CBI has claimed that the chief conspirator was ENT specialist Virendra Tawde - of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and also linked with the Sanatan Sanstha. He was arrested on June 10 and is now in judicial custody.
It has also identified Vinay Pawar and Sarang Akolkar - both absconders - as Dabholkar's killers in a 40-page charge sheet filed before a Pune court on Wednesday.
Akolkar, an accused in the Madgaon blast case, has a red corner notice issued against him while Pawar - who is not a history-sheeter - is absconding since 2009, according to the CBI chargesheet.
"The motive for the murder of Dabholkar was allegedly the long enmity/hatred that existed between the two private organizations headed by Dabholkar in Satara and Tawde in Kolhapur," the CBI said.
Dabholkar, 67, a renowned rationalist and founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), was shot dead on August 20, 2013 by two unidentified motorcycle borne assailants while on a morning walk near Omkareshwar Temple in Pune.
The CBI said Dabholkar had founded the MANS, and the accused-conspirator had given up his medical profession in 2001 to set up the Sanatan Sanstha in Kolhapur.
"The activities of persons against the interests of the Kolhapur organisation got targeted and Dabholkar was an important target," the CBI chargesheet said.
It added that the Sanatan Sanstha's Durgesh Samant had assigned Tawde the task of opposing the then pending anti-superstitions bill in Maharashtra which was promoted by Dabholkar from 2007 till his death seven years later (2013).
The CBI step was welcomed as "good" by Hamid Dabholkar, the son of the slain rationalist, but he demanded that the other absconders should also be arrested without delay.
"However, Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar continue to abscond and the CBI must nab them as early as possible," Hamid told mediapersons.
He further claimed that the pattern of murders of Dabholkar in Pune in 2013, Communist leader Govind Pansare in Kolhapur in February 2015 and of Kannada writer M.M. Kalburgi in August 2015 in Karnataka were similar, so these absconding suspects posed a threat to society.