CBI should appeal against acquittal of accused in Dabholkar murder

The decision of a Pune court to acquit three more persons, including Sharadchandra Tawade, who the CBI had named as the “main conspirator,” for want of evidence in the 2013 murder of Narendra Dabholkar, a physician and rationalist who campaigned against religious superstitions, is quite disturbing. The special court convicted two men for the murder of Dabholkar on Friday but acquitted the main conspirator. All five persons were linked to Santan Sanstha, a Hindutva outfit, though the latter has claimed that the convicts were “Hindutva activists” but have never been involved with the organisation. The CBI chargesheet linked Tawade, an ENT surgeon, to the Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.

The Dabholkar murder was reportedly the first in a series of high-profile killings of Left-leaning, anti-Hindutva activists and writers over four years: from Kolhapur-based Communist Party of India leader and former MLA Govind Pansare in February 2015 to Dharward-based Lingayat scholar and former vice-chancellor of Hampi University MM Kalburgi in August 2015, and editor of ‘Lankesh Patrika’, Gowri Lankesh in Bengaluru in September 2017. Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, convicted for shooting Dabholkar, as well as Tawade, are accused in the Pansare case. Kalaskar is also an accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder. These murders all seem related. Therefore it is disheartening to see the main conspirator getting acquitted in the case. The CBI should appeal against their acquittal in higher courts. Further, the scope of the investigation should be broadened, so that all the accused get punished for their heinous crimes.