A member of a right-wing group was on Wednesday arrested from Sangli town in connection with the February 20 killing of senior Communist leader Govind Pansare.
The suspect, Samir V. Gaikwad, 32, is a full-time activist with the Sanatan Sanstha Hindu organisation since 1998.
Charged, among others, with murder and under the Arms Act, he was presented before a Kolhapur court and was remanded to one week's police custody till September 23.
Pansare was attacked on February 16 in Kolhapur when he was shot at from a close range. Pansare, 81, died of bullet injuries four days later. His wife Uma, who was also shot and seriously injured, survived the attack.
Additional Director General of Police (CID), Pune, Sanjay Kumar told media persons here that the suspect could be "directly or indirectly connected" with the Pansare killing.
However, a spokesperson for the Sanatan Sanstha, Sandeep Shinde, dismissed the allegations against the organisation, but admitted that Gaikwad and his family members are "very good and active workers" of the right-wing group.
"Gaikwad had gone to Sangli for the Ganeshotsav celebrations and he was nabbed by the police. In the past as well, I have been arrested and put in jail... Such allegations are nothing new for us," Shinde said.
Lashing out at the police action, Managing Trustee of Sanatan Sanstha, Virendra Marathe accused the police of "scheming to implicate Gaikwad" and said the investigators have gone through two crore call data records and searched only his number under pressure from the anti-elements.
After the joint action by the Kolhapur and Sangli police, Gaikwad, who runs a mobile phones repair business in Sangli, was nabbed from a place in Sangli.
"We are searching Gaikwad's premises in Mumbai, Sangli and other places. We have unearthed some evidence against him which has been submitted before the court," Sanjay Kumar told reporters.
He said that Gaikwad has been under observation for quite some time and he was nabbed on the basis of telephone call records and other discreet forms of surveillance.
Claiming that the police have found his "links" to the Pansare killing, Kumar said Gaikwad was picked up for questioning late Tuesday night and placed under arrest around 4.30 a.m. on Wednesday.
However, challenging the police version and procedures prior to the arrest, Marathe said that Gaikwad was arrested in the morning and presented before the court immediately afterwards.
"This means that the remand papers were prepared beforehand itself... The entire matter is a conspiracy... the police have hatched the conspiracy to implicate the innocent Gaikwad. We are sure that he is innocent and not guilty," Marathe said.
The late comrade's daughter, Smita Pansare welcomed the police action in Kolhapur. She described it as "a significant development" which will help solve her father's murder mystery.
Another social activist Mukta Dabholkar, whose father, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune on August 20, 2013, said that Gaikwad could be just one link in a larger conspiracy.
Akin to Dabholkar's mystery murder, the killing of Pansare had led to a national outcry, spurring the police to hasten the investigations into the two shocking homicides which rattled the state government.
The Sanatan Sanstha is not likely provide any legal assistance to Gaikwad, but Marathe said that either the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad or some well-wisher advocate may help him out.