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14-year-old describes how Rationalist Govind Pansare was shot 

A school-going 14year-old has given a chilling account of how Communist leader Govind Pansare was gunned down by a pillion rider as he returned home from his walk in Kolhapur in February last year.The child, the sole eyewitness who has also identified the accused during an identification parade, said, “I suddenly heard a sound like a cracker and saw a short pillion rider on a motorcycle holding a small gun. He fired a shot which hit an old lady who was walking.She fell. Then the biker raced and took a U-turn. The bike skidded and hit a cyclist’s wheel, causing him to fall. By then the young pillion rider stood on the foot rest and fired at an azoba (grandfather, in Marathi) who was walking towards them. He fired many shots. He (grandfather) fell.“ A school-going 14year-old has given a detailed account of what happened the morning CPI leader Govind Pansare was gunned down by a pillion rider as he returned home from his morning walk.

On Feb ruary 16, 2015, Pansare and his wife were Pansare and his wife were shot at by two motorbikeborne assailants in Kolhapur. While his wife survived, the CPI leader died at a Mumbai hospital on February 20.

The boy , who witnessed the shooting, has stated, “Seeing him fall, I began running towards grandfather who was on the ground, but another old man stopped me from behind. `What are you doing here, run, run, run,’ he told me. I ran, scared, I didn’t sit on my cycle and ran towards my classes.“ The statement is in a question-answer format, recorded by a senior police official in Kolhapur. There were 18 questions put to the 14-year-old.

The boy described the bike and its riders vividly . He said the tank of the bike had two blue curved strips. Two youth were on the bike. They had black hand-gloves on and were busy with their mobile phones, waiting on the road. “The one riding the bike wore a black sweater and blue jeans, a red headband, and he carried a black sack on his back and wore sandals. He was tall. The pillion rider wore a black cap, black sweater and grey jeans. He wore white and red sneakers. On his back was a black torn back-pack. He was short, plump and ordinary .“

The boy said he would go for cricket practice at 6am on his cycle, return home at 8.30am and leave home for classes around 9am as his classes begin at 9.15am. He detailed the usual route he takes to his classes and said on February 16, 2015, he had left for his classes on his cycle. He said while he was on the cycle, “a little ahead of Govindrao Pansare’s house near a large tree, the front wheel mudguard of my cycle scraped the tyre and my cycle stopped. I got down to try and fix it when I saw on the opposite road a motorcycle with a black number-plate waiting.“

The boy said it was 9.15am when he left home and he doesn’t know what time the shooting occurred.

Asked if he had informed anyone about what he witnessed, he said, “I told my class teacher. At that time four other classmates were present. Later when I reached home, I told my mother and my father too.“

“I returned home from school via the same route. I crossed Pansare’s house, where I saw police and crowds had gathered and ro adblocks were in place.“

Samir Gaiwad, a member of the right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha, was arrested in Sangli by the special investigation team of Maharashtra Police in connection with the murder. Special public prosecutor Harshad Nimbalkar opposed his bail in the Bombay high court saying the evidence, both direct and circumstantial, was strong. The boy is one of four eyewitnesses. The others include Pansare’s widow. Sanjeev Punalekar, Gaikwad’s lawyer, had tried to play down the value of a child witness but the Evidence Act doesn’t preclude testimony of a child witness as a competent witness.

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