The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad has questioned at least 16 people for their possible links to the three men arrested for allegedly planning to carry out blasts in the state, a police official said on Saturday.
ATS sources said they have got the names of 20 people who were either instrumental in procuring materials for making the bombs or were funding the operation. All of them will be questioned in the next 2-3 days, officials said.
The ATS on Friday arrested Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar from Nallasopara near Mumbai and Sudhanva Gondhalekar from Pune. Following raids at Raut’s residence and shop, the ATS claimed to have seized a huge quantity of explosives, including 20 crude bombs and bomb circuit drawings.
ATS chief Atulchandra Kulkarni said they will probe if the arrested men had any connection with the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare and journalist Gauri Lankesh.
The ATS also questioned at least 16 others from Nallasopara, Pune, Satara, Solapur and elsewhere in the state for suspected links to the three men, the police official said.
He, however, did not reveal if more arrests were likely to happen.
Police are also probing if the arrested men were part of social media groups of like-minded people by examining their mobile phones, he said. Their mobile phones will be sent to a forensic science laboratory for analysis, he added.
Raut’s purported social media account mentioned he was associated with the right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha, but the group yesterday denied he was its member.
A court in Mumbai yesterday remanded the three men in ATS custody till August 18.
According to Mumbai Mirror, the name of Sanatan Sanstha, a right-wing organisation based in Goa, cropped up in the murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and veteran Leftist leader Govind Pansare after the arrests of two of its members.
Dr Virendra Tawde, the main accused in the murder of Pansare, used to work as an organiser for the Sanstha in Kolhapur. He received bail from a local court earlier this year, but continued to remain behind bars as he is also a prime accused in Dabholkar’s murder.
Another Sanatan Sanstha worker, Samir Gaikwad, was also arrested in connection with Pansare murder, reports Mumbai Mirror.
While Dabholkar was gunned down in Pune in 2013, Pansare was shot dead in Kolhapur in 2015.
Investigators also suspect the involvement of the same set of right-wing elements behind the murder of Karnataka professor MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.
However, the outfit has vehemently denied any role in the killings.
People with links to the Sanstha was also arrested for carrying out the Madgaon bomb blasts in 2009 in which two of its sadhaks died. Two members of the outfit were also convicted in the Thane bomb blast.