According to reliable sources in the Maharashtra Police ATS investigating the terror plots, wherein several people from Mumbai, Pune and Satara have been arrested including a former Shiv Sena corporator from Jalna Shrikant Pangarkar and a huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosives were seized, the accused had made a list of 10-12 persons from Maharashtra who were according to them ‘anti-Hindu’ and had to be killed or eliminated.
Senior journalist Nikhil Wagle, former editor of Aapla Mahanagar, IBN-Lokmat and Maharashtra 1, was No 2 on the hit list of the terror suspects.
According to a Hindustan Times article that reported the court proceedings before the special court the ATS also claimed that the five accused were involved in throwing petrol bombs outside cinema halls in Kalyan (a city in Thane district, 50 km north-east of Mumbai), and Belagavi (earlier known as Belgaum) in Karnataka for screening the Hindi movie ‘Padmaavat’.
ATS further claimed that the accused planned to attack individuals who they thought were propagating or engaging in activity that was “against the Hindu religion”, the Hindustan Times reported.
The names of the individuals were not divulged in court as media persons were present, the ATS lawyer told the court.
Atulchandra Kulkarni, Maharashtra ATS chief, said he could not “confirm the names because it will pose a security threat to the individuals” Hindustan Times (HT) reported.
The individuals include an author-historian; a former Marathi newspaper editor and three Marathi authors and play-rights, ATS officials told HT on condition of anonymity.
Hindustan Times in its report did not name them because of the perceived security threat to the individuals.
The former Marathi newspaper editor is none other than the outspoken Nikhil Wagle.
The ATS officials also said they had recovered three motorcycles, including one from Nalla Sopara and two from Pune, and claimed one of three bikes, allegedly owned by Kalaskar, may have been used in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru in September 2017.
In their raids, ATS officials claimed to have recovered 10 pistols, one air pistol, one country-made revolver, 10 pistol barrels, six pistol bodies, six magazines, three handmade magazines, one half-prepared country-made revolver, and seven hand-made pistols from Gondhalekar.
Sunil Gonsalves, the public prosecutor appearing for ATS, told the court that the weapons used by the accused had been dismantled and were thrown away at different places to avoid detection, and that they needed to be recovered. He didn’t elaborate.