Narendra Dabholkar murder case: Pune court convicts two accused, acquits three

Dabholkar (67), an anti-superstition crusader, was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne men while he was on a morning walk on Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune city on August 20, 2013.
Last Updated : 10 May 2024, 06:08 IST
Last Updated : 10 May 2024, 06:08 IST

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Pune: Ten years after rationalist and anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune, a special court on Friday convicted two persons on murder charges and sent them to jail for life while acquitting three others.

Post the verdict, the Dabholkar family, said that the true masterminds of the murder are yet to be found.  

The trial was conducted by a Pune special court set up under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Dabholkar (67), the founder of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), was shot dead on 20 August, 2013, by two motorcycle-borne gunmen near Omkareshwar Bridge  in Pune. 

Additional Sessions Judge P P Jadhav, who presided over the trial convicted Sachin Prakashrao Andure, Sharad Bhausaheb Kalaskar on charges of murder and conspiracy and awarded life imprisonment and fine of Rs 5 lakh each.


The convicts were linked to Sanatan Sanstha, and were arrested by the CBI from 2016 to 2019. 

Three others—ENT surgeon Dr Virendrasinh Tawde, Vikram Vinay Bhave and Sanjiv Punalekar, were acquitted.

The two convicts were the shooters. 

The accused sections 302 (murder), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, relevant sections of the Arms Act and section 16 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (punishment for terrorist act).

Initially, Pune police probed the case before the CBI took over in 2014 following a Bombay High Court order.

The prosecution examined 20 witnesses while the defence examined two witnesses during the trial.

Judge Jadhav, in his order said: “(Accused No. 2) Sachin Prakashrao Andure,  (Accused No. 3) Sharad Bhausaheb Kalaskar has been convicted and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life and fine of Rs five lakh each…. (Accused No 1) Dr Virendrasinh Tawde, (Accused No 4) Vikram Vinay Bhave and (Accused No 5) Sanjiv Punalekar are acquitted.”

He also ordered that Dr Tawde, who is in jail, be released forthwith. 

Dabholkar family reacts 

“We will be approaching the Bombay High Court against the acquittal of three accused who were granted bail earlier,” said Dr Dabholkar’s son Hamid Dabholkar. “While two have been convicted, three were acquitted. We also demand that the masterminds be caught and brought to book,” he said. 

“We don’t know on what grounds the three accused have been acquitted. Some of these accused have connections with three other similar murders. We would move the Bombay High court,” Dr Dabholkar’s daughter Mukta Dabholkar said. “What is more important is who led these two persons to open fire. What prompted them to do that? Who are the mastermind,” she said, adding that the mastermind are yet to be found. 

Meanwhile, the CBI said: “The CBI submitted its chargesheet in 2016 and two supplementary chargesheets in 2019.” 

Sanatan Sanstha reacts 

Reacting to the verdict, Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson Chetan Rajhans said: “The verdict has proven that the seekers of Sanatan Sanstha were innocent. The conspiracy of 'Urban Naxals' to prove Sanatan Sanstha a ‘Hindu terrorist organisation’ has failed.” 

Dr Tawde was associated Hindu Janajagruti Samiti while Bhave was a seeker of Sanatan Sanstha and Punalekar, a lawyer, associated with the  Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad. 

“Despite the convicted Hindu activists Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar neither being the office bearers of Sanatan Sanstha nor being directly involved in any of Sanstha’s activities, we strongly feel that they too were implicated in this case,” Rajhans said. 

“In this case, the investigating agencies constantly changed their stand in the chargesheet. Interestingly, the agencies used 'planchette' to find the accused, through which it was claimed that Dr Dabholkar’s spirit confirmed that Sanatan Sanstha was the culprit behind his murder. Initially, Vinay Pawar and Sarang Akolkar of Sanatan Sanstha were accused of being the killers. Earlier, Manish Nagori and Vikas Khandelwal, from whom the pistol was recovered, were given clean chits. After that, Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar were accused of the murder. The role of the witnesses in this case was questionable. They had earlier identified Vinay Pawar and Akolkar as the killers,” he added. 

Chain of murders 

The murder of Dr Dabholkar set off a chain of killing of activists, the others being Comrade Govind Pansare (82),Prof Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi  and Gauri Lankesh (55).

Pansare, a rationalist and leader of Communist Party of India and his wife, Uma were attacked by two motor-cycle borne youths on 16 February, 2015, near his home in Kolhapur, and he died four days later on 20 February, 2015, at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai.  

Prof Kalburgi ( 76), noted scholar and writer, had run-ins with right-wing Hindutva groups over the years, was shot dead on 30 August, 2015, by unidentified gunman at the former's residence in the Kalyan Nagar locality of Dharwad.

Gauri Lankesh, journalist-turned-activist was shot dead outside her residence in Bengalaru on 5 September, 2017. She worked as an editor in Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly started by her father P Lankesh, and ran her own weekly called Gauri Lankesh Patrike.

Published 10 May 2024, 06:08 IST

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