CBI’s arrest of a Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member in connection with Narendra Dabholkar’s murder has left only the Karnataka rationalist MM Kalburgi’s murder without any solid leads.
A year after it took over the investigation of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar’s murder, the CBI on Friday arrested Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member Virendra Singh Tawde from Panvel near Mumbai. He will be produced before a special court in Pune on Saturday.
The Samiti is linked to Goa-based radical Hindu group Sanatan Sanstha, which had come under the scanner for the murder of another rationalist Govind Pansare in February 2015. A member of the Sanstha Sameer Gaikwad was arrested for the murder of Pansare.
With the arrest of Tawde, the murder of Karnataka rationalist MM Kalburgi remains the only one in which no significant breakthrough has been achieved. Kalburgi’s murder in August 2015 had superficial similarities with those of Pansare and Dabholkar, and subsequently police investigations too suggested the same. Some weeks ago the Karnataka police had said that they had zeroed in on the suspects and were attempting to trace them.
"CBI has arrested Virendra Singh Tawde in an ongoing investigation of a case related to murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar. He will be produced today around 3 PM in designated court, Pune. Investigation is continuing," CBI Spokesperson Devpreet Singh said on Saturday.
It is the first arrest in the case after the Mumbai High Court in May 2014 handed over the probe to the CBI in the fatal shooting of Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist, in broad daylight in Pune on August 20, 2013.
The killings had sparked outrage in the country with several eminent writers and other personalities returning their awards over "rising intolerance".
CBI had recovered some material during its earlier searches in connection with the murder case which brought the needle of suspicion on Tawde, believed to be an ENT surgeon and an alleged follower of 'Sanatan Sanstha' activist Sarang Akolkar, a suspect in the 2009 Goa blast case.
The sources said CBI had questioned him, in different sessions, since June 2 when his residence was searched.
CBI searched residences of Tawde and Akolkar and recovered several SIM cards, cell phones and data from computer, sources said.
They said the two were investigated after the agency found some "cyber forensic evidence" about their alleged role in the murder case of Dabholkar.
34-year-old Akolkar is suspected to be one of the key conspirators in the murder of Dabholkar. He has been on the run ever since his name cropped up during NIA investigations in the Goa blast case.
NIA had secured an Interpol Red Corner Notice against Akolkar in 2012 but security agencies are yet to track him down.