Narendra Dabholkar shooter held by Maharashtra ATS

It is suspected that Raut supplied the firearms and the two-wheeler that were used in the Dabholkar murder case by the accused.

Mumbai: Five years after the gruesome murder of Pune-based rationalist Narendra Dabholkar (67), the Maharashtra Anti-Terr-orism Squad (ATS) got a major breakthrough in the case by establishing the identities of two of his alleged shooters on Saturday.

While one of the shooters, Sudhanwa Gondha-lekar (39) is part of the terror ring involving three persons associated with right-wing outfits that was busted by the ATS on August 11, the other — Sachin Andhure — was identified as a resident of Roza Bazar area in Aurangabad.

Andhure, who was arrested on Saturday from Aurangabad, has been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as it is formally investigating the murder case, officials said. It is stated that Andhure was picked up for questioning on August 14 by the ATS. The officials have learnt that Andhure is married and is the father of two children. His parents passed away a few years ago.

The investigations revealed that Gond-halekar, a native of Satara who had been staying in Pune’s Mitra Mandal Chowk in Parwati area for the past few years, and Andhure were the ones who killed Dabholkar on the morning of April 20, 2013, when he was out on a walk. Andhure was the one who fired at the rationalist.

“Following his arrest, Gondhalekar was grilled on the killings of the rationalists in the state and, after detailed interrogation, he spilled the beans. He revealed the other accused in the case and the two-wheeler that was used in committing the crime and fleeing from the spot,” said an ATS officer.

Gondhalekar led the ATS to Andhure, who was summoned for questioning first. He appeared before the officials without any inkling of what was in the offing. When Andhure was questioned by the ATS and reportedly also confronted during face-to-face interrogation with Gondhalekar, he gave the specific details of the murder.

Investigators said that their probe is still on to ascertain possible roles of Vaibhav Raut, a gau rakshak (cow protector) who is also allegedly a seeker (sadhak) of Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha. Raut was the first person to be arrested in the alleged terror case by the ATS in early hours of August 11. The ATS had found 20 crude bombs and a cache of firearms from his Nalasopara residence.

It is suspected that Raut supplied the firearms and the two-wheeler that were used in the Dabholkar murder case by the accused. The ATS is meanwhile tight-lipped on the roles of the other accused in the murders. They have secured the custody of Raut, Gondhalekar and Sharad Kashalkar (25) till August 28 for further investigation.

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