BENGALURU: The Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the two sensational murder cases of Kannada littérateur M M Kalburgi and editor-activist Gauri Lankesh may soon get a critical piece of evidence-the contraband 7.65 mm pistol used in the murders.
The pistol was reportedly dismantled and thrown in Vasai Creek, an environmentally sensitive zone on the Mumbai-Nashik highway-by Sharad Kalaskar, the alleged shooter of rationalist Prof Narendra Dabholkar in Pune, on the alleged advice of Sanatan Sanstha’s counsel Sanjeev Punalekar.
An SIT official said that to retrieve the weapon, which could be crucial evidence, machinery from a Netherlands-based private company in Mumbai will be roped in. The machinery will be used for dredging, probing and filtering, he said.
“Since the mangroves are protected, it will require permission from various agencies like the Forest and Environment Department and the Public Works Department. We are awaiting approvals from these agencies. We hope to start work before monsoon arrives as the weapon is indigenous and could erode quickly, destroying the evidence,” a senior SIT official told The New Indian Express. Once the retrieval starts, it is expected to take anywhere between four and 10 days.
In October 2018, Kalaskar, who is also accused number 16 in the Gauri murder case, had shown the SIT the spot from where he had thrown the pistol along with three other country made pistols after dismantling them.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the Dabholkar assassination case, has sent a request to the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF) for permission to search the spot in Vasai Creek, where Kalaskar had reportedly thrown four country-made pistols of 7.65mm after dismantling them.
Kalaskar reportedly told the CBI that when he met Punalekar in his office in Mumbai in June 2018 and told him about his role in the Dabholkar murder, Punalekar told him to destroy the weapons used in the murders of Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.
“Kalaskar threw the four pistols after dismantling them from a bridge in Thane Creek on August 23, 2018, when he was returning to Nalasopara from Pune,” the CBI lawyer had told the Pune court.
Kalaskar, a sympathiser of Sanatan Sanstha, was arrested that month by the Maharashatra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in the Nalasopara arms haul case.
He is an accused in the Gauri, Kalburgi and Kolhapur-based Communist leader Govind Pansare murder cases as well.
He had reportedly ferried Kalburgi’s killer Ganesh Miskin on a motorcycle to the scholar’s house in Dharwad, where Miskin had shot Kalburgi dead inside his house on August 30, 2015.