11 months before Dabholkar murder, accused lawyer sent him letter opposing views on Ganesh visarjan: CBI

Sushant Kulkarni
Dabholkar (67) was shot dead by two assailants at the Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune on August 20, 2013. (File)

The supplementary chargesheet filed by the CBI against advocate Sanjeev Punalekar and his aide Vikram Bhave in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case refers to a letter written by the lawyer to the anti-superstition activist, almost 11 months before the killing, opposing Dabholkar’s views on Ganesh idol visarjan leading to water pollution.

The chargesheet filed by the CBI on Wednesday, accessed by The Indian Express, lists the outcome of the CBI’s investigation into the role of the 53-year-old Mumbai-based lawyer and his aide Bhave, who is a convict in the 2008 Thane blasts case.

The chargseheet stated, “The investigation has revealed that accused advocate Punalekar and his assistant, Bhave, are members of Sanatan Sanstha. Punalekar has been working as the secretary of Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad and is an active member of Sanatan Sanstha. Punalekar had differences with the rationalist and the reformist activities of Dr Dabholkar. This fact is established through the letter dated September 17, 2012, recovered from the laptop of Punalekar. This indicates that the accused Punalekar was opposed to Dabholkar, even in year 2012.”

“In this letter, the address of Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad is mentioned as that of the residence of Sanjiv Punalekar.

It is mentioned in this letter that opinion of Dr Dabholkar about water pollution because of Ganesh visarjan is opposed by Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti,” it added.

Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti is an affiliate organisation of the Sanatan Sanstha.

The chargesheet further stated, ‘The criminal intentions of Punalekar, Bhave, Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, along with the other two accused, Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, and others, who belonged to Sanatan Sanstha or Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, were to follow and execute the teachings in ‘Kshatradharma Sadhana’ advocated by Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti and to eliminate those persons, who are termed by the said organisations as ‘evil doers’, ‘anti-hindu, dharamdrohi, durjan as they are opposed to their beliefs and customs. The said organisation struck terror in the society at large and especially in the members of Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti and its followers, who were spearheading the passage of Andhashraddha Nirmulan Bill in Maharashtra state through various programmes and speeches.”

Sanjeev Punalekar . File

The chargesheet also stated that in June 2018, alleged shooter Sharad Kalaskar visited the chamber of Punalekar, where Bhave was also present. “Punalekar told Kalaskar about his role in the murder... he (Punalekar) told him not to worry. Punalekar also told Kalaskar to destroy the firearms used in murder cases, including the Gauri Lankesh murder case. On July 23, 2018, Sharad Kalaskar threw the four country-made pistols from a bridge in khadi (part of an ocean) while on his way to Nallasopara residence of Vaibhav Raut, while returning from Pune in the vehicle of Vaibhav Raut.”

Raut is the key accused in the Nallasopara arms haul case that is being probed by the Maharashtra ATS.

Forensic Psychological Assessment Conducted

* While Sharad Kalaskar's confessional statement to the Karnataka Police in the Gauri Lankesh murder case is a pivotal point in the CBI probe, the agency has also relied on the Forensic Psychological Assessment of some of the accused, including Punalekar, sources told The Indian Express. These tests were conducted at the Forensic Science Laboratory in Navi Mumbai. Punalekar is said to have told the officers conducting the test about his earlier cases in which he represented various members of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti. Punalekar allegedly also revealed his meeting with Kalaskar in his chamber.

The Forensic Psychological Assessment test is among a set of tests conducted by investigating agencies to find out whether a probe is on the right track. While these tests are not admitted as evidence during the trial, the results can be used as supporting document for the prosecution's arguments. Unlike narco-analysis tests, Forensic Psychological Analysis does not require the consent of the subject.

Search on for weapon

* Through the chargesheet, the CBI has told the court that the search and recovery operation of firearms, allegedly thrown into Kharegaon creek by Kalaskar in July 2018, started from October 9, 2019 in the creek located on the Thane-Nashik Highway with the help of a firm, Envitech Middle East FZE, UAE. The search operation is being conducted by the CBI in coordination with the SIT, Karnataka, which is investigating the Gauri Lankesh murder case, and the SIT, Maharashtra, which is investigating the Govind Pansare murder case.