CBI arrests two more Sanatan Sanstha members in rationalist Narendra Dabholkar murder case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday arrested a lawyer and his assistant working for the extreme right wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha in connection with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar from Mumbai. The arrested persons were identified as Sanjeev Punalekar and his assistant Vikram Bhave. Demand for Punalekar’s arrest was raised after the SIT named him in its chargesheet earlier this year. They will be produced in a Pune court on Sunday, PTI quoted a CBI official as saying.

According to PTI, the CBI in a preliminary investigation has found that Punalekar had known to one of the shooters of Dabholkar. According to the investigators, Sharad Kalaskar, who was earlier arrested in the Dabholkar murder case, had revealed that Punalekar had asked him to destroy the pistol allegedly used in murder of the rationalists. Punalekar had represented many Hindutva accused in different cases.

Till date, CBI has arrested six people in connection with the murder. Rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013 in Pune, while he was out on a morning walk. In November 2018, CBI had invoked terror charges against all the accused. Dabholkar was a doctor, social activist, rationalist and author from Maharashtra. In 1989, he founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) for eradicating superstition.

Four days after his murder in 2013, the then Maharashtra government promulgated the pending Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance in the state. In 2014, he was posthumously awarded the Padma Shri for social work. Dabholkar was born on November 1, 1945 to Achyut and Tarabai and was the youngest of 10 siblings.

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