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The Special UAPA Court in Pune on Sunday remanded Sanatan Sanstha’s lawyer Sanjiv Parulekar and his aide Vikram Bhave to a seven day CBI custody in relation to the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. The duo was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday and was brought to Pune from Navi Mumbai on Sunday morning. Shortly after, the two accused were produced before the Court where the CBI sought fourteen-day custody for them.
In its remand application, the agency claimed that Sharad Kalaskar, one of the two shooters identified by the CBI, had visited Punalekar’s chamber in June 2018. Kalaskar at this time informed Punalekar about his role in Dabholkar’s murder and was advised by Punalekar to destroy the weapon used in murders of both Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh. Bhave, who is Punalekar’s assistant, was also present during this interaction. The application filed by CBI states,
“Sharad Kalaskar shared with Sanjiv Punalekar about his role in the murder of Narendra Dabholkar. Sanjiv Punalekar told Sharad Kalaskar to destroy the firearms used in murder cases including the murder of Gauri Lankesh on July 23, 2018,”
The agency further told the Court in its application that the shooter dismantled four country-made pistols and disposed them in the Thane creek on June 27, 2018, the investigation has revealed. To further probe the and establish the role Punalekar played in the destruction of the firearms as well as to unearth the conspiracy behind the murder, custodial interrogation of Punalekar was imperative, CBI submitted.
The Vacation Bench of Judge SN Sonawane remanded both Punalekar and Bhave to CBI custody till June 1. The CBI was represented by Special Public prosecutor Prakash Suryavanshi while Sanjiv Punalekar was represented by Advocate Virendra Ichalkaranjikar.
Dabholkar was gunned down by two bike-borne assassins outside his Pune residence in 2013 while he was out on a morning walk. Both Punalekar and Bhave are reportedly associated with Sharad Kalaskar, one of the shooters suspected in the case. The other suspect is Sachin Paraksrao Andure. During interrogation, Kalaskar and Andure had reportedly revealed that Dabholkar’s murder was orchestrated by a right-wing group.
In May 2014, the Bombay High Court had transferred the probe in the case from Pune Police to the CBI and is monitoring the same.