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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reportedly made arrest Punalekar on Saturday, along with his close associate Vikram Bhave. Both are associated with the Sanatan Sanstha group.
In response, the Sanatan Sanstha has released a press statement strongly protesting the arrests. The statement has condemned the arrests as being part of a conspiracy and criticised the CBI for bowing down to the demand of the progressives.
“To arrest Adv. Sanjiv Punalekar and Shri. Vikram Bhave when the pro-Hindutva Government is in power smacks of conspiracy behind such an action. The CBI has bowed before the demand of the progressives”, states the press note.
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.
The CBI later intimated that there appeared to be a common link between the murder of Dabholkar and the subsequent deaths of other journalists/rationalists Gauri Lankesh, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi. In view of the submission, last year the Supreme Court had contemplated handing over the investigation into the murders of all four persons to a common agency.
Presently, the CBI is only handing the Dabholkar murder case. Pansare’s death is being investigated by the Maharashtra (Kolhapur) Police SIT. Both cases are being monitored by the Bombay High Court.
The Gauri Lankesh and Kalburgi murder cases are being handled by a common Special Investigation Team (SIT), under the supervision of the Karnataka High Court. A common SIT was directed to look into both cases following a Supreme Court order passed in February this year.