Journalist Nikhil Wagle was No 2 on the hit list of Maha Terror Suspects

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.

Also Read: Terror Suspects Planned to Bomb Mahim Dargah, Bandra Fair at Mount Mary’s Church and Pune Sunburn Festival

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’.

Also Read: Shiv Sena leaders including Uddhav Thackeray were fully aware of Shrikant Pangarkar’s terror links, ‘explosions’, ‘bomb blasts’ plot?

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.

Also Read: Shrikant Pangarkar assembled bombs, funded purchase of explosives and boasted of ‘explosions’ and ‘bomb blasts’ to MoS Arjun Khotkar

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.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners Raut, Gondhalekar and Kalaskar planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

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.

Also Read: 150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested hardliners

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.

Also Read: Ex-Sanatan Sanstha seeker alleges “members hypnotized, made into killing machines and human bombs ready for mass murder or genocide”

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.

with inputs from Hindustan Times

BJP-led Maha Govt Protected and Shielded Right-Wing Murder-Accused for Four Years, Gauri Lankesh Probe by Karnataka SIT Forced Mah Govt to make Arrests

By Rajesh Singh | 25 August, 2018:  The Maharashtra Congress today alleged that the Devendra Fadnavis BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra had protected and shielded the killers of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and others for the last four years, in spite of having complete knowledge of the criminal activities of the hardliners who are indirectly part of the government.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners had planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

It was only after the Karnataka police Special Investigation Team (SIT) arrested about 13 persons who spat out the names of their associates in Maharashtra, and the press began reporting on the Maharashtra link to the killers, that the government developed cold feet.

It was just a matter of time, before the names of the accused hiding in Maharashtra would be revealed publicly in the media.

Also Read: Ex-Sanatan Sanstha seeker alleges “members hypnotized, made into killing machines and human bombs ready for mass murder or genocide”

The text of the remand and bail applications, as well as the confessional statements of the accused began appearing in the media, which forced the government to act and ordered the Maha ATS to make arrests immediately.

The Karnataka SIT had proof in terms of money trails and bank statements of several payments or transfers made by RTGS and IMPS from people in Maharashtra who had financially supported Gauri Lankesh’s killers in Karnataka.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

The government was worried that the role of  others in Maharashtra like Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar and Shrikant Pangarkar would be exposed during court proceedings in the Gauri Lankesh case and the role of the Maha government in shielding the accused and not making arrests, in spite of having information from the Karnataka police would come out in the open.

The credibility and very existence of the Maharashtra government was at stake, said a Congress leader from Mumbai. The Devendra Fadnavis government then consulted Delhi, including the PMO and the Home Ministry, which gave them the go-ahead to arrest all the accused in Maharashtra whose names had cropped up in the Gauri Lankesh investigation.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

This would serve a dual purpose. While the field operators like Raut and Kalaskar would be arrested, the masterminds and their political masters or bosses could still be protected. The arrest of the small fry would save the big bosses from arrest.

A top Karnataka police official told IndiaScoops.com,  the SIT had information that the weapon used to kill Gauri Lankesh was given to Gondhalekar who personally collected the weapon after the murder and took it for safe-keeping in Maharashtra. Forensic reports had matched the weapons, proving that only two weapons were used in all the murders.

Also Read: Shoot her in the head as it was done in Kalburgi murder, Gauri Lankesh killer taught during training

The Karnataka SIT knew that country-made pistols were being manufactured in Maharashtra and a huge cache of arms and explosives was being readied for subversive activities during the coming festivals.

Sources told IndiaScoops.com, that the Karnataka SIT had asked for permission from the Maharashtra DGP and the Maharashtra govt home department to raid Vaibhav RautSharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar and arrest them to recover the weapons used in the Gauri Lankesh murder.

The Karnataka SIT was all set to enter Maharashtra and arrest Kalaskar and Gondhalekar. The Maharashtra government had to do something and it did act in the nick of time to save it’s own skin.

Also Read:  With nearly 16-18 bomb blasts across the State, Sharad Kalaskar’s group plotted to rain terror and chaos in Maharashtra during Eid and Ganpati festivals

The SIT was sure the weapon was with Gondhalekar or one of his associates hidden somewhere in Maharashtra.

In the light of all this, if the Karnataka SIT had to effect the arrests of Vaibhav RautSharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, it would have been a big slap on the face of the Maha government and its role in protecting the killers would be completely exposed. 

The Bombay High Court was also breathing down the neck of the CBI and the Maharashtra CID. It had openly praised the Karnataka SIT, while chastising the Maharashtra police and instructed the agencies to take inputs from their colleagues across the border.

Also Read: Dabholkar, Pansare, Kulbargi and Lakesh murders inter-linked: Same group of killers involved in murders

The accused in the custody of the Karnataka SIT were singing like canaries and they had revealed the names of all the co-conspirators from Maharashtra. A diary found in the possession of the main accused Amol Kale listed the names of the accused as well as those on the hit-list of the killers.

Karnataka SIT sources told IndiaScoops.com, they were about to move court for search and arrest warrants against the accused hiding in Maharashtra. Had a Karnataka court to grant the SIT the search and arrest warrants, the Maharashtra government would have to run for cover.

Further, the Devendra Fadnavis government was also worried if   Vaibhav RautSharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, Sachin Andhure and Shrikant Pangarkar were to land up first in the SIT custody, more skeletons would tumble out of the closets as the SIT was going hammer and tongs with the investigation.

More big names – including those of some top politicians in other States would be revealed – this was the other major problem for the Maha CM. The only way to prevent this was to first arrest them and lock them up with the Maharashtra ATS where they could be debriefed, conditioned and tutored before the Karnataka SIT got hold of them.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh killers planned to kill actor Prakash Raj, a Goan Congress leader and a Mumbai-based journalist

By doing so, Devendra Fadnavis would be seen as a strict disciplinarian, unwilling to tolerate terror activity of any hue or color.

“The government was aware of what was happening,” said a senior Congress leader, adding that a former Shiv Sena corporator from Jalna, Shrikant Pangarkar has been arrested by the ATS and the CBI for the murder of Dr Dabholkar and according to media reports several senior Shiv Sena leaders were aware of Pangarkar’s activities as well as his plans to carry out several bomb blasts in Maharashtra.

The Congress leader claimed that Pangarkar had bragged of his ‘explosions’ and ‘bomb blasts’ activity to each and every Sena leader he met over the last 2-3 months. Why didn’t the government act against him earlier, he asked?

Also Read: Shrikant Pangarkar assembled bombs, funded purchase of explosives and boasted of ‘explosions’ and ‘bomb blasts’ to MoS Arjun Khotkar

According to a July 2018 report in Mid-day, the Congress alleged that the BJP-led Maharashtra government was shying away from taking serious action against the Sanatan Sanstha because “supporters” of the right wing outfit are part of the ruling dispensation.

Also Read: Shiv Sena leaders including Uddhav Thackeray were fully aware of Shrikant Pangarkar’s terror links, ‘explosions’, ‘bomb blasts’ plot?

Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil also said that the style of functioning of the Sanstha can be equated with international terrorist organisation, the Al Qaida.

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded a ban on Sanatan Sanstha and alleged that the State government is safeguarding the mastermind in the murder case.

Vaibhav Raut And Gang’s Main Targets Were Mumbai and Pune During Ganpati Festival

Vaibhav Raut, 40, who was named by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) following investigations and arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly plotting terror attacks at numerous places, had stored the crude bombs under his bed at his Nalasopara home.

The three persons arrested by the Maharashtra ATS – Vaibhav Raut (40), Sharad Kalaskar (25), both from Nalla Sopara near Palghar and Sudhanav Gondhalekar (39) from Pune for possession of a huge cache of arms and explosives, had allegedly planned to blow up or create blasts at six theaters and at least 4-5 Ganapati mandaps in different parts of Maharashtra including Mumbai, Pune, Sangli and Solapur during the upcoming Eid and Ganapati festivals in Maharashtra and pin the blame on Muslim anti social elements, police sources have claimed.

This is what the ATS remand report, filed while seeking police custody of Raut and his accomplices – Sharad Kalaskar, 25, held from Nalasopara, and Sudhanva Gondhalkar, alias Pandeji, 39, held from Pune – states.

As per the remand report, an informant gave the agency a tip-off on August 7 along with certain phone numbers, after which the three suspects were located.

Incidentally, one of the numbers the agency got was registered in someone else’s name in Vile Parle. Inquiry, however, revealed that the person had shifted to Nalasopara.

When the person was found, he told investigators that he had given the SIM to Raut, who had given it to Pandeji.

This helped the ATS to zero in on the three. Officers suspect that someone else’s SIM was being used to throw the police off track.

Line of investigation
The report has also revealed that though the suspects recceed many places, their main aim was to create disturbance in Mumbai and Pune.

Interrogation of the three led to the recovery of the bombs and other material, including two handwritten letters from Kalaskar in which the bomb-making technique was described in detail.

The agency is investigating whether Kalaskar was the sole in-charge of bomb-making, or the other two had a hand in it too. The ATS has also seized two one-litre bottles of poison.

A senior officer said samples have been sent to the Kalina forensic lab for testing, and they are trying to find out what the accused needed poison for.

Arms haul
ATS has recovered 20 crude bombs, several country-made pistol with magazines, country guns, airguns, pistol barrels, partially-made pistols, trigger mechanism, number plates of vehicles, a chopper, hard disks, pen drives etc.

The questioning of the trio led to the arrest of former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar, 40, from Jalna.

He was the financier, who funded the bomb-making, and also the facilitator said ATS officers.

with inputs from Mid-day

Dabholkar, Pansare, Kulbargi and Lakesh murders inter-linked: Same group of killers involved in killings

As the CBI made one more arrest on Sunday, the realization is slowly dawning upon the investigating agencies including the Karnataka SIT, that all the murders of rationalists Dabholkar, Pansare, Kulbargi and journalist Gauri Lankesh are inter-linked and the same group of Hindutva hardliners supported from afar by the Sanatan Sanstha and its offshoot Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) were involved in the planning and execution of the targets.

Also Read:  With nearly 16-18 bomb blasts across the State, Sharad Kalaskar’s group plotted to rain terror and chaos in Maharashtra during Eid and Ganpati festivals

In fact, the same two weapons were possibly used in all four murders – forensic tests and reports have proved that there were two pistols that were used in the four murders.

The CBI team investigating the murder case of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar has claimed that it has arrested the alleged shooter who fired bullets at Dabholkar on August 20, 2013, reports News18.

Also Read: 150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested hardliners

The CBI team has been able to nab the alleged shooter Sachin Prakashrao Andure, just two days before the fifth death anniversary of Dabholkar.

On Sunday, the CBI arrested a former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar who was riding pillion on the motorbike of the shooter Andure.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners Raut, Gondhalekar and Kalaskar planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

Sachin Andure, a right wing Hindu activist, was a regular reader of Sanatan Prabhat, the mouthpiece of the Sanatan Sanstha.

According to sources, Sachin Andure’s name surfaced during the interrogation of three suspects arrested by the Maharashtra ATS on August 10.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

Vaibhav Raut and Sharad Kalaskar were arrested from Nala Sopara, whereas the third suspect Sudhanva Gondhlikar was arrested from Pune on the same day.

Vaibhav Raut is a member of the ‘Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti’. He has participated in several events organised by Hindu organisations, including the Sanatan Sanstha and the HJS.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut, other Gau Rakshaks were involved in extortion in the guise of cow protection: Extortion money was used to fund purchase of arms

Sharad Kalaskar, who hails from Satara district, is also a right wing Hindu activist actively involved in protecting cows. He was working  with Vaibhav Raut in Nala Sopara.

Kalaskar during interrogation told the ATS he was involved in the Dabholkar murder.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

Sudhanva Gondhalekar is allegedly associated with ‘Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan’, an organisation headed by Sambhaji Bhide alias Bhide Guruji. PM Narendra Modi is a great admirer of Bhide who is also known as Bhide Guruji among his people.

Sudhanva has also shared dais with several members of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

ATS said that the arrests were made based on a secret information received on August 7, that certain people were conspiring terror activities in Pune, Satara, Solapur, Mumbai and Nala Sopara.

A huge cache of explosives, including 20 country made bombs and material to make IEDs, was seized along with several firearms from raids carried out at Nala Sopara, Pune and Solapur.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

ATS also arrested Shrikant Pangarkar, former Shiv Sena corporator from Jalna district on August 19. It is suspected that he financed the fire arms and explosives recovered from the three suspects.

If sources are to be believed, the secret information received by ATS was given by the Special Investigation Team from Karnataka probing the murder case of Journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

According to sources, the name of Vaibhav Raut and others surfaced during the interrogation of Amol Kale, who allegedly masterminded murder of Gauri Lankesh.

Amol Kale was arrested by Karnataka Police on May 21, on charges of attempt to murder.

However, his custody was taken by the SIT of Bengaluru police as it was suspected that he was involved in the murder plot of Gauri Lankesh.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha has 22 different outfits, registered in different States under different names

A diary was also seized from Kale which has several names of targets, including that of Gauri Lankesh.

The Karnataka police SIT investigating the Gauri Lankesh murder claimed that about 36 to 40 persons were on the hit list of Kale and gang.

The families of Dabholkar and late Communist member Govind Pansare have been given security following inputs from Kale’s diary, which reportedly had the names of the family members on the hit list.

Also Read: Shoot her in the head as it was done in Kalburgi murder, Gauri Lankesh killer taught during training

Sources claim that the diary is written in code language and also talks about 50 potential shooters from Karnataka and Maharashtra who were to be recruited to carry out the operations. About 40 persons were on the hit list of the shooters.

Several of these were being trained in using guns, pistols and air guns in Belgavi, Hubballi and Pune.

Also Read: Gau Rakshaks chant anti-police, anti-govt slogans, take out protest march demanding release of terror suspect Vaibhav Raut

When Amol Kale was interrogated by the SIT about the names in the diary, he revealed information about Vaibhav Raut and others. The information was passed to Maharashtra ATS.

Based on this information, the Call Data Records of Vaibhav Raut and Sharad Kalaskar were tracked by the ATS, which revealed information regarding a terror conspiracy and their suspicious activity was exposed.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha wants to set up a Saffron Army of 2000 trained killers and shooters for terrorist activity

Vaibhav Raut and Sharad Kalaskar were detained by the ATS and after several hours of questioning, the residence and shop of Vaibhav Raut, located in Nala Sopara, were raided and both were arrested.

Another suspect named Sudhanva Gondhlikar was also arrested from Pune as he was found to be constantly in touch with the Vaibhav Raut and Sharad Kalaskar.

Also Read: Protest rally at Nala Sopara in support of arrested Vaibhav Raut was organised by Sanatan Sanstha and HJS

Apart from firearms and explosives, in the raids conducted at Nala Sopara, Pune and Solapur, ATS also seized vehicle number plates, motor bikes and parts of pistols along with other articles, including several documents handwritten in code language.

ATS suspects that these articles were used in the murders carried out in Maharashtra and Karnataka, including that of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. Raut’s office was used as a store-room by the killers.

During interrogation of Sharad Kalaskar regarding these murders, the ATS claims he revealed that he played a major role in the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar. He also gave information about Sachin Andure’s role in the murder.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut wanted to do a repeat of Malegaon Blasts

Based on this input, Sachin was detained by the ATS from Aurangabad district of Maharashtra on August 14. After questioning him for several hours, it was found that he was involved in the killing of Dabholkar. The information was shared with the CBI team investigating the case after which he was arrested by the CBI.

It has been found that Sachin, who was staying in Aurangabad was one of the shooters, who fired at Dabholkar. He has also been trained to use firearms in different parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

CBI stated that the conspiracy to kill Dabholkar was hatched by Virendrasinh Tawde along with Sachin and others.

Virendrasinh Tawde, a member of the Sanatan, was arrested in 2016 for his involvement in the murder of Dabholkar, he is also an accused in the murder of Govind Pansare.

Sachin Andure’s arrest is considered as an important development in the Dabholkar Murder case.

Speaking to News18, Hamid Dabholkar, son of late Narendra Dabholkar, said “CBI should reach the masterminds of this conspiracy. I hope that the killers of Pansare, Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh will also be arrested soon”.

with inputs from News18.com

Main Shooter in Narendra Dabholkar Murder Case Arrested, claims Mah ATS, CBI

New Delhi/Mumbai: The CBI on Saturday arrested the alleged main shooter in the murder case of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra, the agency said.

According to PTI, Sachin Prakasrao Andure, a resident of Aurangabad, was nabbed from Pune late in the evening, a CBI spokesperson said.

He will be produced before a Pune court tomorrow, he added.

Andure was believed to be one of the shooters who fired at Dabholkar while he was on a morning walk on the Onkareshwar Bridge in Pune on August 20, 2013, the CBI spokesperson said.

Earlier, the CBI chargesheet had named Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, both absconding, as the shooters.

Asked about this and the agency’s latest claim that Andure was one of the shooters, the spokesperson said the probe was going on.

Andure was arrested on a tip-off from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which had last week arrested three persons for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to carry out blasts in the state.

One of the arrested accused gave the input about Andure’s involvement in Dabholkar’s murder, which the ATS shared with the CBI, the spokesperson said.

During the questioning of the accused in police custody, one of them revealed about his direct participation in Dabholkar’s murder, the ATS said in a statement.

“He further revealed that along with him, one more person was also directly involved and they used a motorcycle,” it added.

Considering the importance of the revelation, the ATS shared the details of the second person with the CBI, based on which the agency carried out its own preliminary investigation and arrested Andure, the statement said.

In June 2016, the CBI had filed a chargesheet against Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member Virendra Tawde under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder) of the IPC, among other charges.

Tawde was allegedly the mastermind of the killing, the CBI had said.

Late in the evening, a senior Maharashtra ATS official told PTI that of the three men arrested in the blast conspiracy case, it was Sharad Kalaskar who was also allegedly involved in the killing of Dabholkar.

The Bombay high court had, in May 2014, handed over the Dabholkar murder case to the CBI.

The CBI had arrested Tawde in June, 2016. An alleged follower of “Sanatan Sanstha” activist Sarang Akolkar, against whom a Red Corner Notice was issued by the Interpol on a request from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in July 2012 in connection with the 2009 Goa blast case, is also under the scanner of the agency.

Dabholkar’s murder and the murder of communist leader and rationalist Govind Pansare in a similar manner in February 2015 had sent shock waves throughout the state.

Source:  PTI

Vaibhav Raut wanted to do a repeat of Malegaon Blasts

According to media reports, on August 11, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested Vaibhav Raut for possession of explosives and after interrogating him, they arrested two more people Sharad Bhausaheb Kalaskar and Sudhanwa Sudhir Gondhalekar from Pune.

The accused are hardened criminals are are expert at hoodwinking the police. They have now started claiming that they wanted to support the Maratha agitation and planned low-intensity bomb blasts to create chaos and fear in society. This is a ploy by the accused to take the police off-track from the main investigation.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners Raut, Gondhalekar and Kalaskar planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

During the investigation, the trio revealed that they were planning to target Malegaon during Bakri Eid.

In a second search of Vaibhav Raut’s house on 14th August, the ATS recovered a laptop, two CPUs, one Innova car, four air pistols, 20 air pistol bullets, a notebook, a diary, three mobiles, three SIM cards and two sets of flat documents.

Also Read: 150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested hardliners

Sources claims the accused said the motive behind attacking Malegaon again was to avenge the atrocities committed against the earlier accused in the Malegaon bomb blast case.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut, other Gau Rakshaks were involved in extortion in the guise of cow protection: Extortion money was used to fund purchase of arms

Along with being associated with the assassination of rationalists Dabholkar, Pansare and journalist Gauri Lankesh, the organisation had allegedly entrusted the Bakri Eid plot to Vaibhav Raut and his colleagues.

So far, the Maharashtra ATS has investigated 35 to 40 people in this case.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

In addition to this, the Anti-Terrorism Squad will also verify the connection of the accused in the Ahmednagar Parcel Bomb case.

Similar to the Ahmednagar case, the accused were assembling low-intensity bombs which could cause a minor explosion and cause a scare in society without causing much physical harm.

Hindutva hardliners Raut, Gondhalekar and Kalaskar had planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

The three persons arrested by the Maharashtra ATS – Vaibhav Raut (40), Sharad Kalaskar (25), both from Nalla Sopara near Palghar and Sudhanav Gondhalekar (39) from Pune for possession of a huge cache of arms and explosives, had allegedly planned to blow up or create blasts at six theaters and at least 4-5 Ganapati mandaps in different parts of Maharashtra including Mumbai, Pune, Sangli and Solapur during the upcoming Eid and Ganapati festivals in Maharashtra and pin the blame on Muslim anti social elements, police sources have claimed.

Also Read: 150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested hardliners

The locations targeted were close to Muslim localities, as a result of which the finger of suspicion would automatically point to anti social elements from the minority community.

2-3 anti-Hindu voices were also on the hit list and the Hindutva terrorists who had planned to use the crowds and chaos as a screen during the coming Ganpati festival to carry out their sinister plan to eliminate the liberal and rationalist voices in the State.

Goa-based writer Damodar Mauzo was among those targeted, sources claimed. Mauzo has been given police protection since the last 3 weeks by the Goa government as threats to his life were revealed.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha has 22 different outfits, registered in different States under different names

The Maharashtra ATS refused to officially confirm the information regarding the targets, but said that they were investigating all angles.

The arrested persons were definitely planning bomb blasts in Maharashtra and other parts of the country to spark off riots between communities, a plan which was foiled by the cops in the nick of time, the ATS said officially on record.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha wants to set up a Saffron Army of 2000 trained killers and shooters for terrorist activity

The arrested hardliners Vaibhav Raut and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar wanted to procure about 150 pistols, 100 bombs and over 3000 bullets of different caliber for use in the coming 6-8 months and were planning to recruit a ‘small army of like-minded persons’ to carry out various terrorist activities.

They were trying to arrange funds to a tune of Rs 15 lakh to purchase this hardware for their heinous acts.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut, other Gau Rakshaks were involved in extortion in the guise of cow protection: Extortion money was used to fund purchase of arms

The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) found a mini arms-making unit or factory and is now probing their links in Uttar Pradesh and Assam, official sources said on Monday.

The arrested persons were in the process of procuring machines and lathes to make country-made pistols and also fabricate bullets. They had obtained training from illegal arms manufacturing units in UP and Bihar, ATS sources revealed. Imported arms were procured from Assam.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

Vaibhav Raut a violent gau rakshak was the co-founder of a cow protection group, Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti set up in 2014. The group is allegedly associated with Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, Shiv Prathisthan and the Sanatan Sanstha, all of which are radical far-right Hindutva organizations.

Gondhalekar is connected with the Shri Shiv Pratisthan, spearheaded by the controversial 85-year-old Sambhaji Bhide alias Bhide Guruji, which has patronage of the PM Narendra Modi.

Modi has openly admired Bhide and called him his guru or mentor. The Shiv Pratisthan confirmed Gondhalekar was earlier associated with them, but said he is now no longer part of the outfit.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

Local Congress politicians and meat traders in Palghar from where Raut was arrested have termed him an extortionist who would extort money from meat transporters and fund his illegal arms manufacturing activity.

On Friday, last week, the ATS created a sensation by claiming to have unearthed a terror plot targeting Mumbai, Pune, Satara and Solapur ahead of Independence Day celebrations and the upcoming Bakri Eid festival.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

Continuing the raids and probe over the weekend in Palghar, around 60 km north of Mumbai, the ATS has found a mini arms production unit and seized at least five country-made pistols, three incomplete pistols, 11 cartridges of 9 mm pistols and 30 cartridges of 7.65 mm pistols, springs, triggers and other material, reports news agency IANS.

The arrested three persons were part of a larger inter-state network of radicals set up to eliminate anti Hindu voices and create mayhem in the country. The ultimate aim was to create fear in the majority community by linking the blasts and acts of violence to minority community elements.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

Nearly 20 other associates or suspects have been interrogated to ascertain their connections in other parts of the state or outside and certain email exchanges between the accused with references to Uttar Pradesh and Assam shall be probed.

Sanatan Sanstha workers have complete and free access to Maha Govt Ministers, always seen at Mantralaya and Legislature coordinating with govt

Speaking to media persons Congress Maharashtra chief Ashok Chavan alleged that the “Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare had also tried to investigate the Malegaon bomb blast case, but he couldn’t complete it.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

The BJP government in Maharashtra may give a clean chit in the Malegaon case too as the Sanatan Sanstha workers are always seen in at the Mantralaya and legislature offices coordinating with the government.

They have free access to the entire government machinery, Ministers and MLAs, Chavan alleged.

Also Read: Arrested far-right extremists were trying to procure 70 pistols and 50 bombs for blasts across the country

After the seizure of explosives and pistols from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut, Opposition leader in the Legislative Assembly and Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil alleged on Friday that communal forces had hatched a conspiracy of bomb blasts on Bakra-Id, to create communal riots across the state.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

Vikhe Patil and Congress state president Ashok Chavan demanded a ban on outfits like the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti immediately, saying that the BJP-led government in Maharashtra must not protect those who promote violence and terrorism.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut, other Gau Rakshaks were involved in extortion in the guise of cow protection: Extortion money was used to fund purchase of arms

Vikhe Patil said Vaibhav Raut was involved in the riots and other offences and explosives were seized from him. Hindu Janjagruti Samiti declared it’s a second part of the Malegaon blasts which proves that, a conspiracy was hatched to create bomb blasts and communal riots.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut from whom 8 bombs and explosives were seized was actively involved with Sanatan Sanstha for last 6 years

Role of the organisations like Sanatan Sanstha and HJS were suspicious from day one in the context of murders of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Gouri Lankesh.” Vikhe Patil asked whether now the State would approach the Union government in order to ban such organisations.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state president Jayant Patil demanded an investigation into the recovery of country-made bombs from the ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ member Vaibhav Raut.

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged that Sanatan Sanstha was indulging in terrorist activities and thus the government should ban these organisations.

Raut, Kalaskar and Sudhanva Gondhalekar were trying to procure 70 pistols and 50 bombs: ATS recovers 10 pistols from Vaibhav Raut’s residence

August 13, 2018: Interrogation of the arrested accused by the Maharashtra ATS Raut, Kalaskar and Gondhalekar owning allegiance to the Sanatan Sanstha, the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and the Shri Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan has revealed that the trio were trying to procure about 70 pistols and about about 2000 rounds of ammunition.

The Maharashtra ATS had arrested Vaibhav Raut from Nalla Sopara and Sharad Kalaskar and Sudhanva Gondhalekar last week from Pune.

They were trying to manufacture bullets at a hardware factory in Satara, but were unsuccessful in their attempts till now. They had manufactured 11 bombs and had accumulated enough material to manufacture at least 30-40 more bombs.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

In addition to the above explosives the ATS has recovered at least 20 unfinished pistols or parts of pistols from the three locations at Pune and Maharashtra.

The trio wanted to manufacture 50 bombs by next month, which were to be used to create blasts in different parts of the country.

The trio are part of a hit squad of about 30 persons hand-picked from Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka by the main conspirators whose identity is still a mystery.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut, other Gau Rakshaks were involved in extortion in the guise of cow protection: Extortion money was used to fund purchase of arms

The Karnataka SIT investigating the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh feels the main group is headed by a retired Indian Army colonel and three others who are senior members of a well-known right-wing association.

The leads were obtained from the Karnataka SIT. The SIT has arrested 13 persons, 2-3 of them are actively linked to the Sanatan Sanstha. Their interrogation led to the names of 10 others, three of whom were arrested by the ATS last week.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

The ATS raids on 10 and 11 August, led to the confiscation of 11 country-made pistols with magazines, an air gun, ten pistol barrels, six pistol magazines, six partially-made pistol bodies, three partially made magazines and several parts of firearms, reported PTI.

Besides, materials used to make bombs, a chopper, six number plates of vehicles, CDs, pen drives, hard discs and handbooks and other literature on bomb-making were also found. The investigators suspect that materials seized were to be used for making IEDs.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

Around 16 people, who were considered accomplices of the three accused, were also arrested.

ATS sources told the Indian Express that all three accused blamed each other for bombs and claimed innocence for themselves.

“Raut claimed that he was not aware that they were bombs and that he had kept the consignment for safe-keeping on the request of the other two accused. The other two have been claiming that the explosives were found at Raut’s residence and they had nothing to do with them,” an ATS official told Indian Express.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

All the suspects are reportedly linked to the Sanatan Sanstha, which was allegedly responsible for the murder of three rationalists – Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, as well as the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

One of the arrested accused, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from Satara is a active member of the Shri Shiva Pratishthan Hindustan whose chief Sambhaji Bhide had been booked in two criminal cases in connection with the violence near Bhima Koregaon on January 1 by the Pune police.

Also Read: Sanathan Sanstha a nodal agency for radicals involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, money for hits, was routed through donations made to Sanstha

Gondhalekar was actively involved as an activist with several far-right Hindutva groups including the HJS and is a known sympathizer of the Sanatan Sanstha.

Bhide who has a huge following in interior Maharashtra is held in high respect by PM Narendra Modi as well as Uddhav Thackeray and several RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders. PM Modi has openly and publicly admitted that he considers Bhide his ‘guru‘.

with inputs from PTI and Indian Express

Arrested for possessing explosives, Sanatan Sanstha members Raut, Gondhalekar, etc., linked to PM Modi, Amit Shah, VHP and RSS

August 11, 2018: Among the three accused persons, arrested by the Maharashtra ATS on Friday,  for possession of 20 crude bombs, explosives, timers, detonators, bomb fuses and other material, Vaibhav Raut, a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti and the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS), is also believed to be a sympathizer or worker of the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha which is allegedly involved in the murder of three rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi and the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Karnataka.

Also Read: 35 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

Another arrested accused, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from Satara is a active member of the Shri Shiva Pratishthan Hindustan whose chief Sambhaji Bhide had been booked in two criminal cases in connection with the violence near Bhima Koregaon on January 1 by the Pune police.

Gondhalekar was actively involved as an activist with several far-right Hindutva groups including the HJS and is a known sympathizer of the Sanatan Sanstha.

Bhide who has a huge following in interior Maharashtra is held in high respect by PM Narendra Modi as well as Uddhav Thackeray and several RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders. Modi has openly and publicly admitted that he considers Bhide his ‘guru‘.

Gondhalekar who was arrested on Friday by the ATS after a tip from the Karnataka SIT investigating the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh is reportedly Bhide’s close confidante and an active member in his outfit.

All the arrested accused or the outfits they work for are involved in 4-5 murders –  those of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind PansareM M Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh. Their outfits have been involved in bomb blasts at Panvel, Thane and Margao. 

Sanatan Sanstha members have been arrested in four bombings in Vashi, Thane, Panvel (all in 2007) and Goa (in 2009) and in the murders of Narendra Dabholkar (in 2013), Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi (both in 2015).

The third accused, Sharad Kasalkar was arrested along with Raut from his residence in Nallasapara. Live crude bombs, detonators, electronic equipment and parts and gelatin sticks were allegedly recovered from the accused.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

The ATS arrests materialized after information passed on by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Karnataka police probing the murder of Gauri Lankesh revealed the names of 10-12 persons who were actively involved in terror activities, including plots to eliminate anti-Hindu voices. In all a total of 20 persons are under the Maharashtra ATS scanner.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

Two names that stood out in the Bhima-Koregaon violence that left one dead and several injured, were Sambhaji Bhide, a former RSS worker and Milind Ekbote, a former BJP corporator from Pune.

Sambhaji-Bhide-Narendra-Modi
Former senior RSS leader and founder of Shiv Pratishthan in Maharashtra Sambhaji Bhide whose member was arrested by the ATS for possessing explosives with PM Narendra Modi

The heavyweight leader from Sangli who was earlier a senior RSS leader, heads a self-formed organisation Shiv Pratishthan in Kolhapur which enjoys huge support from the public.

Bhide’s aura is such that he is admired by several heavyweight political figures including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and several senior RSS and VHP leaders.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sangli during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he specially met Sambhaji Bhide and said that he had come to see Guruji not on his request but on his order.

Another instance which proves the steel of Bhide is when the current Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis halted his helicopter convoy to meet with Guruji and discuss an imperative political matter.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha like cancer, a killing agency and breeding ground for murderers, ban it, demands Goa-based Sahitya writer Damodar Mauzo

According to media reports, Narendra Modi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray have high respect for Bhide. Modi during his campaign in 2014 elections had visited Bhide’s home at Sangli to seek his blessings. Moreover – according to the fact checking website Boom Live, in a campaign speech at Raigad, Maharashtra Bhide said, “mein Bhide guruji ka bahut abhari hoon. Kyunki unhone mujhe nimantran nahi diya tha. Unhonhe mujhe hukum kiya tha. Aur aap lok aathi guruji ka hukum, sunhe ke aur palan karne ke. Mein bhide guruji ko bahut saalon se jaanta hoon….”

“I am extremely grateful to Bhide Guruji as he did not give me any invitation. He ordered me. And all of you are aware of his orders and to hear them and follow them. I know Bhide Guruji from many years now and when we were learning about public service, we were given Bhide Guruji’s example…” – Narendra Modi

Modi addressed Bhide as a mahapurush (great personality) and tapasvi (sage) in his speech and praised him for his devotion, hard work and discipline that he displays in life.

Boom Live states that both Narendra Modi and Uddhav Thackeray had approached Bhide for blessings and support in 2014 Lok Sabha elections as quoting a report by the Indian Express. Bhide showed his displeasure to both the parties for the split in the saffron alliance at that time and stressed that the Shiv Sena and the BJP must stay together.

Also Read: Sanathan Sanstha a nodal agency for radicals involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, money for hits, was routed through donations made to Sanstha

At his 2014 election rally in Sangli’s Tasgaon Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to staunch Hindutva activist Sambhaji Bhide (Guruji) as one of his inspirations, reports the Indian Express.

The same reports says the former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist, Bhide is the founder president of the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, an outfit with sizeable clout in Sangli, Satara, and Kolhapur districts of Western Maharashtra.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut from whom 8 bombs and explosives were seized was actively involved with Sanatan Sanstha for last 6 years

At the Tasgaon rally, Modi had said he had come to seek  blessings of Bhide Guruji, who had been an inspiration during the early days of his life. Modi also reminded crowds that “at the instance of Bhide Guruji, he had visited the Raigad fort to gain inspiration from Maratha warrior king Chatrapati Shivaji, before accepting the responsibility of leading the BJP to power at the centre.”

The Indian Express report terms Bhinde a rabble-rouser with a huge fan following among the poor, jobless youth in interior Maharashtra.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

Several senior RSS and VHP leaders have prostrated themselves before Bhide, seeking his blessings. Sources claim he has a hotline to the PM and can call the PM anytime, anywhere.

with inputs from Boom Live, Indian Express, PTI & NewsX