Former Shiv Sena Corporator Shrikant Pangarkar taken has been taken under custody by the special investigating team probing Gauri Lankesh murder. 42-year-old Pangarkar was arrested by the Maharashtra ATS in a terrorism case last month. Upon demand, he was produced before the court of principal session judge in Bengaluru by the SIT of Karnataka police.
Pangarkar was associated with Sudhanva Gondhalekar. During police interrogation, Gondhalekar opened up about Pangarkar’s involvement in plotting murder plan. Police suspects a major role played by him in arranging logistics and providing financial support for acquiring arms and ammunition. The Special Investigating Team has taken him into custody for 12 days from Mumbai prison.
“We took him into custody as we have found vital revelations from Gondhalekar, which linked him with the 7.65mm country-made pistol that was used to murder both Gauri Lankesh and Prof M M Kalburgi. The Maharashtra ATS had arrested him last month. Pangarkar is also alleged to be involved in providing funds for crude bombs and conducting recce at different spots. Searches were carried out in Jalna and Aurangabad on August 18 and the ATS had recovered one hard disc and three mobile phones,” the police said.
The interrogation brought out Pangarkare’s links with Amol Kale (37) and his co-accused Amit Degwekar in the open. Kale and Degwekar were in-charge of their covert operations in Karnataka also accused of creating a group of assassins out of youths from fringe Hindutva groups. Phone call records of Pangarkar, who is also known as ‘Praji’ shows more than 1,000 calls to Kale made in a year.
Pangarkar, who is reportedly identified as “Praji” in a diary belonging to key suspect Amol Kale, 37, was closely associated with Kale, a former Pune convenor of HJS, who is accused of creating a group of assassins out of youths from fringe Hindutva groups. Phone logs for Pangarkar reveal over 1,000 calls in a year with Kale, SIT sources said.
The investigating team is also tracking his financial transactions as he had provided financial support in the murder plan. He also has links with Sachin Andure, who is suspected to be one of the shooters in the Dabholkar case.