Asseem Shaikh & Vishwas Kothari TNN


CBI on Wednesday said its probe had established that Mumbai lawyer Sanjiv Gajanan Punalekar had got firearms used in the murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in the city and journalist-turned-activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru in 2017, destroyed along with the motorcycle used in killing the rationalist.

In a supplementary chargesheet filed against Punalekar and his aide, Vikram Vinay Bhave, before the special UAPA court in Pune, the CBI referred to oral and documentary evidence, establishing Bhave’s role in helping Sharad Kalaskar and Sachin Andure, accused of shooting Dabholkar dead in Pune on August 20, 2013.

“Bhave rode a motorcycle triple-seat, with Kalaskar and Andure riding pillion, and showed them the way from Shivajinagar bus depot to the place where the motorcycle (used in the crime) was to be picked and further to the bridge near Omkareshwar temple, residence of Dabholkar, escape route and the place to abandon the motorcycle and firearms,” the chargesheet stated.

“A call data record analysis of Bhave’s two cellphone numbers revealed that the location of both his mobiles on August 9, and 16, 2013, was Pune city, near the scene of crime,” it added.

The chargesheet referred to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory’s report of June 3, 2019, related to a “forensic psychological assessment test” on Punalekar admitting how he got connected with Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti in 2005, the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad (a lawyers’ organisation) associated with Sanatan Sanstha, his appearance as lawyer for six people, including Bhave, arrested for 2008 blasts at Thane, Vashi and Panvel, and his becoming a regular sadhak of Sanatan Sanstha.

Punalekar told his assessor that Rishikesh Devdikar, charged in the Lankesh murder case, told him about Kalaskar’s desire to meet him, the chargesheet said, describing Kalaskar’s meeting with the lawyer in June.