‘CM lacks political will to nab my dad’s killers’
The late Govind Pansare (R) with his wife
By Alka Dhupkar

Communist leader Govind Pansare’s killers will not be nabbed unless Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis puts his weight behind the investigation, the murdered communist leader’s daughter, Smita, told Mumbai Mirror on Tuesday.

Pansare, 82, a CPI leader, and his wife, Uma, 67, were shot at barely 500 metres from their Pratibhanagar, Kolhapur home while returning from a morning walk on February 16. He died four days later. She took a bullet to her skull, and still uses a wheelchair.

“The investigation has failed so far mainly because the chief minister has not shown the political will to nab the killers,” Smita Pansare said. “The police are merely assuring us that they are on the right track. How do we believe that when they have not even released the suspects’ sketches to the public? We are not demanding an SIT [Special Investigation Team] or CBI investigation, because we have seen what happened in [murdered anti-superstition activist] Dr Narendra Dabholkar’s case. Handing that case to the CBI has brought no progress. We don’t want to waste crucial time by demanding change in investigating agencies.”

The day of the attack on Pansare, the CM said it was “a system failure.” The opposition parties and even ally Shiv Sena had pointed out that Fadnavis – who also holds the home portfolio – was in charge of the system that failed.

Smita, who has an appointment with the CM on Thursday, said, “Unless he [Fadnavis] speaks louder assuring his complete political will to back the investigation, the case is not going to see any progress. Fadnavis was aggressive when he was in the opposition and Dr Dabholkar was killed. Why he is silent on comrade Pansare’s murder case? He has not spoken to us even once. This shows his attitude towards this case.”

Smita said her father fought for many causes, but never had any personal rivalry. “We strongly feel that communal and casteist forces are behind this,” she said.

Pansare’s followers said that it had become his mission to inform people about the ills of glorifying Nathuram Godse as a ‘nationalist’. Pansare wanted to deliver 100 lectures on the subject. At one such lecture in January at Kolhapur’s Shivaji University, an ABVP activist threatened to take Pansare to court.

“Pansare spoke against Nathuram and Savarkar and appealed to the youth for more study of real history in this polarised, political world,” said Sunita Amrutsagar, a professor at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar College and a strong Pansare supporter. CPI leader Prakash Reddy also criticized the government, and alleged that “Nathuram pravrutti [similar thoughts] is behind this murder.”

Another local professor and longtime Pansare supporter, Vilas Ransubhe, said he had seen many threatening letters that Pansare had received. “We never took these letters seriously. Now I feel it was our mistake. We should have kept records of these letters, which prominently mention Sanatan dharma,” he said.

Pansare had earlier led protests against highway tolls, sacking of workers from the Gokul Milk Sangh, and the Rs 147-crore Kolhapur District Central Cooperative Bank loan fraud.

The Kolhapur police and the state government have declared Rs 5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh reward respectively for information on Pansare’s killers. Two days ago, the police took Uma to the attack spot, but she has no memories that can help the investigation. “We are trying to find out the motive behind this murder, and the killers,” said Kolhapur SP Manoj Sharma.

Meanwhile, another progressive leader, Bharat Patankar, has been receiving threatening letters, along with copies of a publication called Sanatan Prabha