Accused Vikram Bhave (left) and Narendra Dabholkar (right)
Accused Vikram Bhave (left) and Narendra Dabholkar (right)
File Photo

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale, on Thursday, granted bail to Vikram Bhave, an accused in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar under stringent conditions. Bhave has been asked to stay in Pune for the period of a month, surrender his passport, report to the police station for a period of three months and has been directed to submit a surety of Rs 1 lakh.

Bhave had moved the high court after a special court in Pune rejected his bail application. According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), arrested accused Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar had opened fire at Dabholkar while he was on a morning walk on VR Shinde bridge near Omkareshwar temple in Pune on August 20, 2013.

CBI had then arrested Bhave along with lawyers Sanjeev Punalekar in May 2019 in connection with the murder. Punalekar was arrested on the basis of a statement given by Kalaskar which claimed that Punalekar had played a role in destroying the weapon used to kill Dabholkar.

Bhave, a convict in the Thane auditorium blast of 2008 and was released on bail by the high court in 2013, had allegedly helped Kalaskar and Andure identify Dabholkar at the spot.

Punalekar was granted bail on July 5, 2019, following which Bhave too had applied for bail.

CBI had contended against his bail plea stating that Bhave rode with Kalaskar and Andure, and also helped them conduct a recce of the area, had planned the escape route and had also found the place to abandon the vehicle which made him part of the overall conspiracy.

CBI investigation into the case had first seen the arrest of Sanathan Sanstha member Dr Virendra Tawde in June 2016. In the chargesheet against Tawde, CBI had named Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as the person who killed Dabholkar.

But later CBI named Andure and Kalaskar as the person who killed Dabholkar. Later, CBI had also arrested Amol Kale, Amit Digwekar and Rajesh Bangera, also accused of the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in September 2017.

CBI had then claimed that Kale, a resident of the Pimpri Chinchwad area in Pune, was a key conspirator in the Dabholkar murder case while Bangera allegedly gave firearms training to Andure and Kalaskar.

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