Mumbai, May 25: In a significant development, the CBI has arrested right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha's lawyer Sanjiv Punalekar and his aide Vikram Bhave in connection with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, official sources said here on Saturday.
The two will be taken to Pune and produced before a designated court which is monitoring the CBI probe in the sensational murder case.
The Sanatan Sanstha strongly protested the arrests accusing the CBI of bowing before the demand of the progressives.
"To arrest Punalekar and Bhave when the pro-Hindutva government is in power smacks of conspiracy behind such an action. It is very serious to arrested Punalekar who proved the falsehood of saffron terrorism behind the Malegaon explosion case," said Sanatan Sanstha national spokesperson Chetan Rajhans.
Describing Punalekar as innocent, he said the lawyer is performing a "seva" (service) to society, the nation and 'dharma' without any expectations, and many social activists, patriots and devout Hindu groups and lawyers have extended their support to him.
While Punalekar is Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad national secretary, Bhave is an RTI activist for the same organisation, according to Rajhans.
Honoured with a Padma Shri in 2014 (posthumously), Dabholkar, 67, who was chief of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), was gunned down near his residence while on a morning walk on August 20, 2013.Besides Punalekar and Bhave, the CBI has so far arrested a total of five persons in connection with the murder.
Five years after Dabholkar's killing in August, 2018, the CBI made the first breakthrough arrest of the alleged shooters - Sachin Andure from Aurangabad and Sharad Kalaskar from Palghar.
Following their interrogation, the name of Virendrasingh Tawde, arrested earlier in another case, came to light as the conspirator in the Dabholkar murder.
When contacted by IANS, the family members of the late Dabholkar declined to comment on the latest arrests.