Five people, allegedly associated with Goa-based right-wing Hindu organisation Sanatan Sanstha, have now emerged as the key suspects in the murder of Bengaluru-based journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh.
According to The Indian Express, the five missing suspects are Rudra Patil (37) from Sangli, Praveen Limkar (34) from Kolhapur, Jayaprakash alias Anna (45) from Mangalore, Sarang Akolkar (38) from Pune and Vinay Pawar (32) from Satara.
Patil, Akolkar and Pawar are also key suspects in the murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, leftist thinker and rationalist Govind Pansare, and Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi.
Limkar, Anna, Akolkar and Patil are also suspects in the 2009 bomb blast in Madgaon in which two Sanatan Sanstha members were killed when transporting an IED that was supposed to be planted at a festival function. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has also named these four Sanstha members as among its most wanted suspects and a red-corner notice has also been issued against their named by the Interpol.
The worst part is that despite their alleged links to these crimes, none of these five suspects have been caught till now.
The Hindu, in a report, stated that in March 2017, CBI announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for any information on Pawar and Akolkar. CBI claims these two suspects are close associates of Veerendra Tawde from Panvel, arrested in June 2016 in the Dabholkar murder case.
Akolkar has been absconding since he was named as one of the suspects in the Madgaon blast. According to the CBI, Pawar was one of the assailants in the Dabholkar murder case and Akolkar was a conspirator.
"While the plan to eliminate Dabholkar was being discussed between Tawade and Akolkar through coded emails and secret meetings since 2008, it was only in 2010 that Akolkar clearly discussed ‘targeting’ Dabholkar on emails exchanged between the two," a 2016 report in The Indian Express had said.
A 2016 report in The Times of India said that Akolkar was brought up in a middle class family in Pune. His father Dilip was working with a private firm on the Pune-Satara road while his mother Kanchan is a homemaker. Akolkar completed his electronics engineering course from a private college in Pune.
He worked for a private company for a few months but soon quit his job and became a full-time 'sadhak' (follower) of the Sanatan Sanstha. The report also said that local police and intelligence agencies "never got wind about his presence in Pune".
Another 2016 report in The Hindu said that Akolkar was likely in touch with his family members. His parents often stayed at the Sanstha's ashram in Goa and his sister and brother-in-law were both sadhaks with the Sanstha.
Patil is reportedly a childhood friend of Sameer Gaikwad, the prime accused in the Pansare murder case who was arrested in September 2015. Patil has also been absconding since he was named as a suspect in the Madgaon blast.
According to The Quint, Karnataka CID had said that Patil was a lead suspect in the Kalburgi murder case. The office bearers of Sanatan Sanstha had also said that Patil was associated with the Sanstha as a volunteer.
Deccan Chronicle had earlier reported that Patil, in fact, is suspected to be the mastermind of the Madgaon blast.
A 2015 report in The Indian Express had shed some light on the location of Anna, Patil, Akolkar and Limkar. "We tried to find them but were not able to do so. Initial investigations showed that they escaped to Nepal. Sometime in 2014, they were reported to have returned," the report had quoted an NIA investigator as saying.
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