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CBI SP probing Dabholkar murder case on Sanatan Sanstha's 'hit-list'?

According to a report, Sanstha members refer to him as 'demon' and accuse him of betraying his faith

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Narendra Dabholkar murder
Narendra Dabholkar

Nandakumar Nair, the Superintendent of Police with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigating the murder of Narendra  Dabholkar, a renowned rationalist from Maharashtra is being closely watched by the right wing, reports Indian Express.

The attackers in the case of Dabholkar allegedly belong to Sanatan Sanstha, a right-wing organization. This murder is being investigated by the CBI. Nair arrested Sanatan Sanstha’s Dr Virendra Tawde in June 2016, a suspected western commander of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), an offshoot of the Sanatan Sanstha for being the conspirator in the Dabholkar murder. Nair said that from the beginning the Sanatan has addressed him as a ‘demon’, or “rakshasa” which was a code used by Sanstha members to address people on their “hit-list”.

According to the report of Indian Express, an official said “Recently, when Sanatan Sanstha lawyer Sajeev Punalekar was questioned by the CBI in connection with the case, a Sanatan functionary informed Nair that they were aware of his recent trip to the Guruvayur Sri Vishnu temple in Kerala. This clearly indicates that the group is monitoring his movements.”

The official further said that the Sanatan members always called Nair anti-Hindu and accused him of not following his faith by arresting their members. 

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former journalist Ashish Khetan had also claimed to have received similar threats; the latest one on May 13 this year. He allegedly received two threat letters from Sanatan Sanstha. Khetan had earlier filed a writ petition in the Delhi court. Following this the scribe-turned-politician also approached the Supreme Court, seeking protection.

In July, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a petition filed by Khetan alleging death threat from right-wing organisations and asked him to approach the Delhi High Court.

Now, when the Karnataka Police is probing the murder of senior journalist and its linkage to the killings of three other rationalists — Narendra Dabholkar, and — these threat perceptions cannot be ignored. 

Four years ago, Maharashtrian rationalist was killed in Pune. Two years ago Kannada rationalist Malleshappa Kalburgi was also shot dead at his home in Dharwad, Karnataka, on August 30, 2015. Another rationalist was also shot in Kolhapur in 2015. These cases too, remain unsolved years later. 

In May 2014, Dabholkar’s murder case was transferred to the CBI. In August 2015, the CBI announced a reward of Rs 25 lakh for anyone who could provide information on this case.

Tawde's arrest was done in June 2016 by Nair who recently received the threat. In March 2017, the agency also announced Rs 5 lakh reward for information on Dabholkar's assailants. 


was a renowned rationalist and a medical doctor from Maharashtra. He was shot by two unidentified gunmen when he was out for his morning walk. He was the founder-president of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, an anti-superstition advocacy group. Dabholkar spent several years pushing for a law against black magic and superstition. A report in Scroll tells that Dabholkar had been receiving several threats from Hindutva elements since the 1980s. Hindutva elements felt his views were hostile towards their culture. 


was a member of the Communist Party of India and a supporter of Dabholkar’s movement against black magic. He was attacked by two unidentified gunmen on his way back from a morning walk in Kolhapur, on February 16, 2015. The man arrested for his murder, Samir Gaikwad, has been out on bail since June. Officers of a Special Investigation Team of the Maharashtra Police, which is in charge of the case, say he belongs to the Sanatan Sanstha. 


MM Kalburgi, noted scholar and rationalist was shot dead at his home in Dharwad, Karnataka by two unidentified gunmen. His killers remain unidentified and no arrest has been made. A report in the Hindu tells that Karnataka CID probing Kalburgi murder case has been on the hunt for Rudra Patil, also an alleged Sanatan Sanstha member and a childhood friend of Samir Gaikwad.


Lankesh, a journalist-activist, known for her Left-leaning outlook and forthright views against Hindutva politics, was shot dead by unidentified assailants at her residence in Bengaluru on Tuesday. According to The Indian Express, the weapon is the same kind used in the killing of Kalburgi and those used in the murders of and

Lankesh worked as an editor in Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly started by her father P Lankesh, and later ran her own weekly called Patrike. At the time of her death, Gauri was known for being a critic of right-wing Hindu extremism.

First Published: Thu, September 07 2017. 14:41 IST
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