Ex-Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar in 12-day SIT custody

Bengaluru: The First Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) court on Monday gave 12-day custody of ex-Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar (40) to the SIT for interrogation in the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh.

Pangarkar is believed to be the one who started a nameless organisation with a mission to eliminate rationalists and writers “posing a threat to Hindutva ideology”. His name popped up when the Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the murder of Gauri, questioned Sudhanva Gondhalekar (39) who was arrested by Maharashtra ATS in connection with plotting terror attacks in Maharashtra.

Gondhalekar, who resembles the man present near Gauri’s house on the day of the murder and caught on the CCTV camera, was taken into the custody by SIT. During the interrogation, he revealed the involvement of Pangarkar. The SIT brought him to Bengaluru on a body warrant from the Maharashtra ATS to interrogate him in connection with Gauri’s murder and produced before the court.

Pangarkar is a former Shiv Sena corporator from the Jalna Municipal Corporation in Maharashtra and was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 18 in connection with the killing of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra's Jalna district. He was arrested based on the confession of Sachin Prakasrao Andure, the alleged main shooter in the Dabholkar murder case.

According to an SIT source, the CBI had established Pangarkar’s link with Dabholkar’s murder. “We had a strong suspicion that he was involved in the murder of Gauri and Dr M.M. Kalburgi too. We have not established it yet. His exact role will come out once the investigation is completed,” the source said.

However, Pangarkar’s lawyer Virendra Ichalkaranjikar argued against the long SIT custody of his client, saying, “The SIT has already established Parashuram Waghmore as the shooter of Gauri and Ganesh Miskin as the rider who drove Waghmore to the crime spot. SIT has also established that Amol Kale was the mastermind. At this point, where the Gauri’s murder case is almost solved, I don’t think SIT could make a huge headway by interrogating Pangarkar,” Mr Ichalkaranjikar said.

He submitted before the court that the SIT has already got all the necessary information about Pangarkar from the CBI and Maharashtra ATS in whose custody he was in for over 25 days.

The court, however, remanded Pangarkar’s custody to SIT till September 28.

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