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Rains hindering murder probe: CBI

Published : Aug 10, 2019, 2:03 am IST
Updated : Aug 10, 2019, 2:03 am IST

The court then adjourned the hearing till September 16.

Narendra Dabholkar
 Narendra Dabholkar

Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Maharashtra government’s special investigation team (SIT) informed the Bombay high court on Friday that the deluge in Kolhapur and Pune had impeded the investigation into the murder cases of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.

Ashok Mundargi, special counsel for the SIT, which is probing the Pansare case, told the court that its officers were stranded in western Maharashtra. The water level is far too high and will take many days to recede, he said. “All highways and roads are underwater and there are no means to come out of the district. Therefore, the investigating officers couldn’t manage to reach the high court,” he said.

Meanwhile, CBI counsel and additional solicitor general (ASG) Anil Singh informed the court that it has called upon experts from abroad to search for the common murder weapon that was apparently disposed of in the Thane creek and that the requisite environmental permissions had been sought for retrieval operations. He added that the search operation would take at least 30 days.

The court then adjourned the hearing till September 16.

A division bench of Justice S.C. Dharmad-hikari and Justice Gautam Patel was hearing a petition filed by the kin of Dabholkar and Pansare, seeking that the court monitor the probe into both the cases.

At the last hearing, the court reprimanded the agencies and directed the state government to provide full assistance to the CBI to retrieve the murder weapon from the creek. The CBI had informed the court, on July 5, that it was facing difficulties as the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) had denied it permission to search for the weapon in the water body despite the environmental board having given it the clearance to search for the gun. The court had also pulled up the CBI for not taking enough steps in the investigation.

Irked by the lack of progress in the case, the court then directed the state government to provide full assistance to the agency.

Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013, when he was on his morning walk on the footpath of Omkareshwar Bridge behind Balgandharva Rangmandir in Pune while Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur and succumbed to his injuries a few days later.

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