Even six months after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing the murder case of rationlist Narendra Dabholkar, recovered the weapon suspected to be used in the crime from the Arabian Sea, the federal agency is yet to get the ballistic test report from the forensic team.
According to highly-placed CBI sources, the agency has asked the laboratory to expedite its testing on the weapon that was recovered by foreign divers from Thane creek in Maharashtra's Thane district.
"We have asked the laboratory to submit the details of the ballistic report of the weapon that was recovered from the creek at the earliest," a source said, adding that once the laboratory reports come, it will ease the work of the agency as it will ascertain whether the weapon recovered from the creek was the one used in the crime.
The CBI team had recovered the weapon in March this year, after hiring a foreign sea explorer agency to search for and recover the firearm used in the killing of Dabholkar.
The CBI earlier claimed in a Pune court that one of the accused shooters, Sharad Kalaskar, dismantled the firearm used in the crime and threw it into the creek.
"A weapon has been recovered during the search operation, but whether it is related to the crime or not will only be confirmed after the ballistic report from the forensic laboratory," a CBI official had said in March.
Dabholkar, 67, who was chief of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), was gunned down near his Pune residence while on a morning walk on August 20, 2013.
The CBI has registered a case on June 2, 2014, following the Bombay High Court's May 9, 2014 direction.
Five years after Dabholkar's killing, the agency made the first breakthrough arrest of the alleged shooters - Sachin Andure on August 18, 2018 from Aurangabad and Kalaskar from Palghar on September 3, 2018.
Following their interrogation, the name of Virendrasingh Tawde, arrested earlier in another case, came to light as the conspirator in the Dabholkar murder.
The CBI also arrested advocate Sanjeev Punalekar, who allegedly advised Kalaskar to destroy the firearms used in the crime.
Punalekar, before his arrest, had represented members of the Sanatan Sanstha and other activists in various cases in courts.
The CBI earlier claimed in the Pune court that during the investigation, it came to light that in June 2018, Kalaskar visited Punalekar's chamber in Mumbai where he revealed his role in the killing of Dabholkar, and was told to destroy the firearms used in the killings, including of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru.
The agency also told the court that on July 23, 2018 that Kalaskar dismantled four country-made pistols, by taking out barrels and sliders, and threw them from a bridge into the Thane creek while on way to Nallasopara in Palghar from Pune.