Pansare killing: Suspect with right-wing links nabbed

Kolhapur (Maharashtra) : A man associated with a right-wing group was arrested from Sangli town in connection with the killing of senior Communist leader Govind Pansare on February 20, a top police officer said here on Wednesday.

The suspect, Samir V. Gaikwad, 30, is connected with the Sanatan Sanstha Hindu organisation since 1998.

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Pansare was attacked on February 16 in Kolhapur when he was shot at from a close range. Pansare, 81, died of bullet injuries four days later.

Additional Director General of Police (CID), Pune, Sanjay Kumar told media persons here that the suspect could be “directly or indirectly connected” with the Pansare killing.

However, a spokesperson for the Sanatan Sanstha, Sandeep Shinde, dismissed the allegations against the organisation, but admitted that the accused Gaikwad and his family members are “very good and active workers” of the right-wing group.

“Gaikwad had gone to Sangli for the Ganeshotsav celebrations and he was nabbed by the police. In the past as well, I have been arrested and put in jail… Such allegations are nothing new for us,” Shinde said.

After the joint action by the Kolhapur and Sangli police, Gaikwad, who runs a mobile phones repair business, was nabbed from a place in Sangli. He was remanded in police custody for a week by a Kolhapur court.

“We are searching Gaikwad’s premises in Mumbai, Sangli and other places. We have unearthed some evidence against him which has been submitted before the court,” Sanjay Kumar told mediapersons.

He said that Gaikwad has been under observation since quite some time and he was nabbed on the basis of telephone call records and other discreet forms of surveillance.

Claiming that the police have found his “links” to the Pansare killing, Kumar said Gaikwad was picked up for questioning late Tuesday night and placed under arrest around 4.30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The late comrade’s daughter, Smita Pansare welcomed the police action in Kolhapur, while another social activist Mukta Dabholkar, whose father, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune on August 20, 2013, said that Gaikwad could be just one link in a larger conspiracy.

Akin to Dabholkar’s mystery murder, the killing of Pansare had led to a national outcry, spurring the police to hasten the investigations into the two shocking homicides which rattled the state government.