Pune: The Special Court of Additional Sessions in Pune today framed charges against five accused in the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, founder of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), by the men allegedly linked to the radical outfit Sanatan Sanstha in 2013.
The accused Dr Virendrasingh Tawade, Sachin Andure, Sharad Kalaskar, Vikram Bhave, and Advocate Sanjeev Punalekar have pleaded not guilty.
While the Additional Sessions Judge SR Navandar charged murder, conspiracy to commit murder and under Section 16 of the UAPA pertaining to a terrorist Act and various provisions of the Arms Act for the use of a firearm on Dr Virendrasingh, Sachin, Sharad and Vikram, Advocate Sanjeev has been charged for destroying the evidence.
Dr Dabholkar, a rationalist, who was on his morning walk on the VR Shinde Bridge near Omkareshwar Temple in Pune on August 20 in 2023 was shot dead by two assailants. He was 67 years old when he succumbed to the gunshots. The crime branch investigated case was handed over to the CBI in 2014.
The trial in the case has begun with the framing charges on the accused. The CBI has said that Advocate Punalekar played a role in the destruction of evidence in the case and Bhave in conducting the recce and destruction of evidence.
The CBI named Andure and Kalaskar as shooters and arrested them in August 2018. The CBI had also arrested three in the Dabholkar murder case, but have not been charge-sheeted yet. The three along with Kalaskar have been named as accused in the 2017 murder of Bangalore journalist Gauri Lankesh.