Anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar’s assailants might have followed him from Mumbai, believes the crime branch of the Mumbai police.
The Mumbai police have learnt that Dabholkar boarded a Dadar-Pune Shivneri bus from the Dadar ST bus depot on Monday night. They are now checking CCTV footage from the depot area to ascertain if Dabholkar was being followed.
The 67-year-old activist was gunned down in Pune on Tuesday when he was out on a morning walk. Four bullets were fired at him from close range; three hit him on the head, forehead, and chest.
After the incident, the Pune police control room received a phone call from an eyewitness who claimed that a bike with the registration number 7756 was involved in the killing.
The crime branch of the Pune police said the attackers could be seen in the CCTV footage of the area but their faces are not clear because the images are blurry.
Since the eyewitness could not provide the complete registration number, “police are gathering the records of all bikes with 7756 registration in the RTOs of Mumbai, Pune, Satara, and Sangli”, a Mumbai crime branch officer said.
“We have even asked a couple of bike owners with this registration number not to leave the city limits unless we give them a clean chit,” he said. An eight-member Mumbai crime branch team headed by an inspector visited Pune after the incident and are helping the Pune police in its investigation.
While analysing the phone call records of Dabholkar, the police figured out three suspect numbers, which they believe can provide a clue to the case. The police have asked the users of these numbers to appear before them and record their statements.
The police are verifying not only Dabholkar’s telephone and mobile phone call records, but also the records of those who were in touch with him, another officer said.
“We are extending all possible assistance to the Pune police,” Satyanarayan Chaudhary, DCP (detection), said.
The Pune police have scanned 55 CCTV camera footages, interrogated 55 motorcycle owners, scanned thousands of calls made from vicinity of the crime scene, received 70 calls after releasing the sketch of one of the suspects.
“Our officers have checked the whereabouts and addresses of the bike owners. Some constables too were sent to villages in the Junnar and Khed talukas to check on some owners,” a Pune crime branch officer said.
Sanjeev Kumar Singhal, Pune Joint CP (law & order), said: “We are working on certain leads but can’t comment at this juncture. Our investigation is on.”
Investigating Hindu groups
Some Hindu groups are under the scanner of the Pune crime branch. “We have allocated specific task to the crime branch units and asked them to dig out information on workers of a group and their whereabouts on Tuesday morning,” an officer said.
Speaking to dna, Sunil Ghanwat, a coordinator of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, confirmed: “The Pune crime branch police had called me up on Wednesday and asked me to drop in at the crime branch office. They have called one of our workers from Mumbai as well.”