Pune: In a key development in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case, a special court here on Wednesday framed charges against five accused linked to ‘Sanatan Sanstha’, marking the beginning of the trial.
All the five accused pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
The Special Court of Additional Sessions Judge S R Navandar framed the charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and under Section 16 of the UAPA pertaining to a terrorist activities and various provisions of the Arms Act against Virendrasingh Tawade, Sachin Andure, Sharad Kalaskar and Vikram Bhave.
The court charged Advocate Sanjeev Punalekar with the destruction of evidence in the case.
Dabholkar, a rationalist and founder of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, was shot dead by two assailants while he was on a morning walk on the VR Shinde Bridge near Omkareshwar Temple in Pune, on August 20, 2013. He was 67.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which took over the case from Pune City Police in 2014, had charge-sheeted the five accused.
The court was slated to frame charges in the last hearing on September 7. The accused, however, had sought time, which the court granted.
Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Suryavanshi, Defence Counsel Virendra Ichalkaranjikar and Prakash Salsingikar were present in the court.
While Punalekar and Bhave attended the hearing in person after being brought to the court from jail, Tawade, Andure and Kalaskar joined via video conferencing from prison.
The court also ordered that Andure and Kalaskar, who are lodged in Aurangabad and Arthur Road prison respectively, be transferred to Yerawada Central Jail in Pune, for the purpose of the trial. Tawade is currently in Yerawada Jail.