BENGALURU: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) may interrogate advocate Sanjeev Punalekar in the murder cases of Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and editor-activist Gauri Lankesh. Punalekar and his associate Vikram Bhave, who is also a member of radical Right wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha, were arrested by the CBI on Sunday for their alleged involvement in the murder case of Pune-based rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. The duo has been remanded in police custody till June 1.
According to official sources, though Punalekar’s name has “so far not figured in Gauri and Kalburgi cases”, the Karnataka SIT, if required, may obtain body warrant from the Mumbai court to bring him to Karnataka for interrogation in Gauri and Kalburgi murder cases. This is after the completion of Punalekar’s police custody in Maharashtra.
Dabholkar’s alleged killer Sharad Kalaskar has been chargesheeted for providing the killer contraband 7.65mm pistol to the shooters of Gauri Lankesh and taking it back after her murder. Kalaskar reportedly told the CBI that in June 2018, Punalekar had asked him to destroy the firearms used in Dabholkar and Gauri cases. Following this, Kalaskar had dismantled four contraband pistols and thrown them in Thane creek on his way to Nalasopara.
An official source, who did not wish to be named, said, “The SIT, while submitting the second chargesheet in the Gauri case in November last year, had taken court permission for filing a supplementary chargesheet at a later date as the case was still under investigation. Since the Karnataka Forensic Science Laboratory has confirmed that the pistols used in Gauri and Kalburgi cases was the same, it will be necessary for the SIT to quiz Punalekar in the two murder cases that it is investigating.” Based on Karnataka SIT inputs, Kalaskar along with Sudhanva Gondhlekar, Vaibhav Raut, Avinash Pawar and Srikant Pangarkar were arrested by Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) in arms haul case last August.