Dabholkar murder: Cops still in the dark

PUNE, INDIA (TIP): Four days after rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead during a morning walk, police are yet to achieve a breakthrough with hopes of getting some leads from a CCTV footage being dashed due to blurred images. The crime branch of the Pune police has now started questioning leaders of 13 gangs involved in serious crimes, in connection with the murder of anti-superstition crusader Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Police officials said the gang leaders and members, some of whom are lodged in jails across the state, are being quizzed to ascertain if the mastermind behind Dabholkar’s killing had rendered the services of shooters belonging to any of these gangs.

There are many gangs operating in the city, but the 13 gang leaders were shortlisted as they have been involved in serious crimes such as kidnapping, extortion and murder, the officials said. These gangs have also been known to use firearms while committing crimes like robbery, dacoity and murder in the past, forcing the police to invoke stringent provisions of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against the leaders and members. The police are also keeping an eye on petty criminals who operate individually or jointly and are in constant touch with the gangs to provide assistance in some form or the other. Officials said that questioning the criminals may help them uncover useful information, leading them to Dabholkar’s assailants.

The police have collected CCTV footage capturing blunt images of the two assailants fleeing the crime scene on a bike. The officials have also started collecting footage of all the major roads to study routes used by the assailants and establish a timeline of when they reached the city and fled after the crime. Officials have questioned as many as 40 people who cross the Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde Bridge during their morning walk. Most of the walkers, however, have said that they were at home on the day of the incident because of raksha bandhan. A police team has recorded statements of the victim’s family members and friends in Satara, but the officials said that they have not held any rightwing group or individual responsible for the murder. They said the family members have not given any specific information about the threats received by Dabholkar.

Meanwhile, the police have obtained over 1,000 two-wheeler numbers from the regional transport offices across the state that are similar to the motorcycle used by Dabholkar’s assailants. The person who saw the ssailants fleeing was able to note down only part of the number, but this information has not helped the police trace the vehicle as yet. A day after anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday, August 21 decided to promulgate an ordinance to enact a long-pending bill to eradicate black magic, blind faith and superstitious beliefs. The law will be the first such in the country.

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