CBI’s 2nd supplementary charge sheet alleges the advocate accepted that he told one of the alleged killers to destroy any incriminating materials, including weapons, in June 2018

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In its second supplementary charge sheet in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) alleged that advocate Sanjiv Punalekar accepted that he told Sharad Kalaskar, one of the alleged killers, in June 2018 that he should get rid of or destroy any incriminating materials, including weapons. The CBI submitted the charge sheet in a Pune court on Wednesday.

Punalekar, the charge sheet alleged, admitted he made the suggestions to Kalaskar during a Forensic Psychological Assessment Test (FPAT) that the CBI conducted on him at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Navi Mumbai from June 3. Punalekar had been arrested on May 25. The charge sheet also accused Punalekar’s assistant Vikram Bhave of helping the two alleged killers conduct a reconnaissance of the target in Pune around a fortnight before Dabholkar was killed.

The charge sheet said that based on the FPAT, Rishikesh Devdikar, who was charged by the Karnataka police in the September 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, allegedly told Punalekar that Kalaskar wished to meet him as he needed his help. In June 2018, Kalaskar allegedly met Punalekar at his Fort office.

Punalekar said in the FPAT that Kalaskar allegedly “gave details of the murder of Dabholkar and his involvement in it”.

According to the charge sheet, Punalekar said that “Kalaskar was scared regarding his arrest”.

It went on to say, “Punalekar suggested to Kalaskar not to keep any materials which would implicate him at the time of his arrest. Punalekar added (during his FPAT) that his intention was that Kalaskar should destroy or get rid of the materials including weapons and subsequently Kalaskar disposed the weapons.” According to the charge sheet, Punalekar also said he knew Virndrasinh Tawde, another person accused in the Dabholkar case, and that Dabholkar had been speaking publicly against an organisation he was associated with and its activities.

The charge sheet accused Punalekar of telling Kalaskar at the June 2018 meeting to “not worry” and to destroy the firearms used in various murders, including that of Lankesh. Subsequently, on July 23 2018, Kalaskar allegedly “threw four country-made pistols from a bridge on Kharegaon Creek on Thane-Nashik highway”. Since October 9 this year, the CBI has been scouring the creek with the help of a UAE firm, Envitech Middle East FZE, to find the dismantled weapons.

According to the charge sheet, the CBI seized two laptops, whose hard disks were “imaged” in June this year. From one of them, the agency recovered a letter allegedly written by Punalekar to Dabholkar on September 17, 2012, around a year before the murder. In the letter, the CBI said, Punalekar allegedly expressed opposition to Dabholkar’s “opinion about water pollution because of Ganesh Visarjan”. Another letter seized by the CBI, which was about an unrelated issue, mentioned a certain ‘Sadguru’, who is yet to be identified by the CBI.

Punalekar, and the lawyers of the two accused were unavailable for comment. Chetan Rajhans, a spokesperson for Sanatan Sanstha, said, “Anyone who believes in the spiritual philosophy of Sanatan Sanstha can be called a sadhak. There are no registered members here. Since I am unaware of the details of the charge sheet, I do not want to comment. Evidence in the case will decide the trial’s outcome.”

Sanjiv Punalekar and his assistant Vikram Bhave