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CBI arrests Virendrasing Tawde for Narendra Dabholkar’s murder

If the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is to be believed, the “kingpin” of the Narendra Dabholkar murder conspiracy had been “living a normal life” with his wife and daughter in Panvel, while simultaneously working on “Project Dabholkar” with senior Sanatan Sanstha members.

Virendrasing Tawde, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member arrested by the CBI on Friday night, came on the CBI radar after it emerged that he was in constant touch with Sanatan Sanstha member Sarang Akolkar, one of the prime accused in the case.

Tawde, who’s from Sindhudurg district, left a thriving practice as an ENT surgeon in 2001to join the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, one of the branches of the Goa-based hard-line Hindu organisation Sanatan Sanstha, the CBI officers told Mumbai Mirror on Saturday. His wife is a paediatrician, working in Panvel, and is currently on a holiday in London with their daughter.

Investigators said that the samiti had launched a ‘Project Dabholkar’ way back in 2007, and Tawde was assigned the task of tracking the rationalist’s movements. Dr Dabholkar’s murder in August 2013 propelled the Maharashtra government to introduce the Anti-Superstition Bill. Sanatan Santha had filed 18 defamation cases against Dabholkar. Though none of the criminal cases against Dabholkar led to a conviction, six civil suits are still at various stages of trial.

“We have sealed Tawde’s Panvel residence. There is a concrete evidence that he had been working on what the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti had named ‘Project Dhabolkar’. Tawde had been tracking Dabholkar’s movements since 2007,” a CBI officer said.

The officer said Sarang Akolkar had planned a bomb blast in Goa, but the operation was botched-up when two alleged Sanatan Sanstha members were killed when the bomb they were carrying accidentally exploded on Diwali eve in Margao in October 2009.

“Tawde and Akolkar were in touch the day of the blast. We have found that 30 emails were exchanged between Tawde and Akolkar months before Dabholkar’s murder, in which the two are discussing the possibilities of purchasing weapons from Uttar Pradesh and Assam,” the officer said.

The investigators said that Tawde was Western Region chief of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, and they had been questioning him at the CBI’s Belapur office since June 2, when his residence was first searched.

Tawde completed his MBBS from Grant Medical College attached to the JJ Hospital in 1987, and special in ENT (ear-nose-throat) from the Sion Hospital Medical College. “His qualifications made him a perfect “project manager” for Sanatan Sanstha, the officer said.

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