Pune, Sep 1: Three accused in journalist Gauri Lankesh's murder case were conspirators in the Narendra Dabholkar murder, too, and one of them imparted weapons training to Dabholkar's shooters, the CBI told a court in Pune on Saturday.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arrested Sachin Andure, one of the alleged shooters of Dabholkar, in August.
The agency on Saturday produced Rajesh Bangera and Amit Digvekar, both accused in the Lankesh murder case, along with Andure in the Pune court. Andure's CBI remand ended on Saturday. The court sent Digvekar and Bangera to CBI custody till 10 September, while Andure was sent to judicial custody.
Claiming that there was a link between the accused in the two cases, the CBI on Friday took custody of Bangera and Digvekar from the Karnataka Special Investigation Team, which is looking into the Lankesh murder.
"Bangera, a government employee and personal assistant to a Congress MLC in Karnataka, gave weapons training to both the shooters, Andure and Kalaskar, who killed Dr Dabholkar," CBI lawyer Vijaykumar Dhakane told the Pune court.
Bangera was also involved in the conspiracy of Dr Dabholkar's murder, and the CBI needs to interrogate him to find out where he imparted training, the source of fire arms, and "present whereabouts of the fire arms", the prosecutor said.
On Digvekar, the CBI lawyer said he had helped Andure carry out a reconnaissance of Dabholkar's house and the routes that the anti-superstition activist usually took. "Digvekar lived in a Goa-based Ashram for over 15 years and was associated with Virendra Tawde, one of the key conspirators in the Dabholkar case. Digvekar is one of the co-conspirators in Dabholkar murder case as entire conspiracy was hatched by Dr Tawde along with Digvekar and this conspiracy needs to be unearthed," the CBI lawyer said.
Defence lawyer Samir Patwardhan pointed out from the CBI's chargesheet against Tawde that the agency had earlier claimed that Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar had shot Dabholkar, and now it has come out with a different version.
After hearing both the sides, Judicial Magistrate (First Class) RR Bhalgat remanded Bangera and Digvekar in CBI custody till 10 September and sent Andure in judicial remand.
The CBI could not take the custody of Amol Kale, a third accused in the Lankesh case who, it says, is one of the main conspirators in the Dabholkar case, too, due to some technicalities, its lawyer said.
Sharad Kalaskar, the second alleged shooter who fired on Dabholkar, is in the custody of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in an explosives seizure case.
Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune on 20 August, 2013, while Lankesh was murdered in Bengaluru on 5 September, 2017.