Far-right Terror Group Involved in Killings of Lankesh, Dabholkar and Kulbargi Tried to Procure AK-47s and Hand Grenades: Karnataka SIT

A Karnataka Police Special Investigation Team (SIT) official told IndiaScoops.com in an exclusive interview on condition of anonymity, that the arrested persons in the Gauri Lankesh murder case were not content using only country-made weapons. They wanted to prepare for an all-out war, or a confrontation by para-military forces.

The main conspirators had plans to set up a ‘commando team’ of about 20 highly-trained persons using imported weapons, in case their bomb and weapons manufacturing ‘factories’ were raided and surrounded by security forces.

However, before this could materialize, the Maharashtra ATS acting on a tip-off from the Karnataka SIT raided and seized a huge cache of country-made weapons which were being fabricated in different parts of Maharashtra, including Nalla Sopara near Mumbai, Pune and Satara.

Among the weapons seized by the ATS were about 20 pistols and finished parts for another 30 weapons, about 22 assembled bombs and explosives, detonators and timers enough to manufacture another 40 bombs.

The conspirators including the arrested Amol Kale had tried to inquire about the availability of military-grade grenades, hand-grenades and even AK-47 and AK-56 rifles and ammunition for the same from sources in Afghanistan.  They wanted to purchase 8 to 10  AK-47 rifles and about 100 hand grenades for emergency use in case of a confrontation with armed rival groups or if they were confronted and cornered by para-military forces.

While the same were available, transporting them to India from the Pak-Afghanistan border was the main hurdle. They had agreed on the price for the cache of weapons and even arranged for the funding. The money was to be sent in advance through hawala channels and the arms and ammunition would be dumped at a secluded and difficult spot on the Maharashtra coastline during the dead of the night, after moving through Pakistan, the official told IndiaScoops.com.

The arrested duo and two others were to pick up the consignment from the coast and hide the weapons in a village nearby about 15 kms from the Maharashtra coast,  only to transport them to safe houses, one at a time, to ensure that the entire cache was not lost or captured, in case the transporters were caught by the cops.

The conspirators had considered transporting the cache of imported weapons by road thru Pakistan and then through the sea. The two main far-right conspirators or masterminds were in touch with certain terror elements in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but there was a lack of trust between them.

Kale and his bosses did not trust the Afghanistani agent who had agreed to sell and transport the weapons. Since the amount was huge and the risk was too great,  the plan was aborted, the SIT official revealed to IndiaScoops.com.

After the seizure of explosives from Nallasopara last month, the Maharashtra Police has arrested at least ten people and said it will investigate their role in all detected and undetected cases, including the killings of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi and Lankesh.

According to a report in The Wire, during the interrogation, one of the arrested persons, Sharad Kalaskar, admitted to his involvement in Dabholkar’s killing, police had said.

On this information, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating Dabholkar’s killing, arrested Sachin Andure from Aurangabad.

According to The Wire, Kalaskar and Andure allegedly shot dead Dabholkar with two pistols in Pune, the official said.

The CBI had earlier arrested Virendrasing Tawade, the alleged ‘mastermind’ of the killing.

“During our investigation, it came to light that Tawade played a major role in the planning and execution of the three assassinations (Dabholkar, Lankesh and Kalburgi),” the official claimed.

While investigating Lankesh’s killing, the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) arrested Pune-based engineer Amol Kale, who had names and mobile numbers of the other group members in his diary, including Vaibhav Raut, Sudhanva Gondhalekar, Sharad Kalaskar and others, the official said.

Kalaskar had traveled to Karnataka to do a recce of Lankesh’s residence, he said.

As part of further probe, the Maharashtra ATS on Wednesday obtained the custody of Bharat Kurne and Sujeet Kumar, who were originally arrested by the Karnataka SIT in Lankesh’s killing case, in connection with the seizure of explosives from different parts of the state, reports The Wire.

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

Hindutva hardliner, anti-intellectual extremist group neutralized, claims SIT

BENGALURU: With the arrest of 12 men in connection with the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, the special investigation team (SIT) says it is not only moving closer to solving the case, but has also dismantled the entire team that was set up to eliminate progressive writers and thinkers in Karnataka, claims a report in The New Indian Express (TNIE).

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

It is learnt that the leaders of the radical outfit, allegedly floated by a right-wing organisation, that carried out the murder of Gauri and scholar Dr M M Kalburgi, in which arrests have to be made yet, had trained more than 20 youths in using firearms.

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

During the course of the probe, the SIT had zeroed in on over 20 youths recruited by Amol Kale alias Bhaisaab, the head of operations of the covert team in Karnataka, and his associates Sujith Kumar alias Praveen and Manohar Edave alias Manoj.

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

They included some of the accused arrested in connection with Gauri’s murder.

“The recruits were spread across the state and all of them were summoned for questioning. Only after we were convinced that they were not involved in Gauri Lankesh’s murder, they were let off with a stern warning. Many of them have admitted that accused Rajesh D Bangera had trained them in firing pistols. Some of them will be treated as witnesses in the case,” a SIT official said.

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 SIT believes that it has identified everyone who was trained by the gang and hopes that murders or attacks on rationalists and writers will not recur in the state, at least for some years.

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

“We have not spared even a single person associated with the gang and have gathered details of each. Their activities will be on the police radar, as we have shared their details with agencies concerned, including the state Intelligence and the jurisdictional police,” the official added.

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

Amol Kale’s arrest is also touted as a major setback to the covert operations team.

“As Kale did everything, from recruiting new members to planning and executing murders, his arrest itself is a blow to his team and its members. Besides, key recruiters like Sujith Kumar and Manohar Edave, trainer Rajesh Bangera and other key members have also been arrested. The team has been left without leadership. Also, with each of its member being identified, we could say it’s almost impossible for them to rebuild the team,” the officer said.

Source: The New Indian Express

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.

Mumbai model Razia Nair Rao accuses Panvel bizman of molestation

Mumbai: A local BJP leader from Panvel who is also a developer and builder has been accused for allegedly molesting and sexually assaulting a Mumbai-based woman while she was attached with a fashion institute run by him, police sources told IndiaScoops.com.

The alleged accused is also a Tv actor and has been doing roles in Tv serials for the last two years. The police have with-held the name of the accused as investigations are still going on.

Also Read: Classical Singer Razia Nair Rao accuses Anup Jalota of hitting on her

In her complaint, the 23-year-old victim has alleged that the businessman molested and physically abused her on several occasions on the pretext of marriage, while she was working at the institute as a student-cum-trainee fashion designer.

Also Read: Well-known TV actor threatens to kill ex-gf, damages her car, after singer reports him to cops

The victim who is a professional Indian classical singer Razia Nair Rao spoke to media persons in Mumbai on Tuesday, saying that she was not afraid of the politician and didn’t want to hide her face or name. The accused had earlier leaked the model’s private images (see here) on social media.

“I am not going to hide my identity. I will take him to the cleaners. He promised to marry me for the last 1.5 years, but now he has ditched me, and thrown me out. If the police do not register my complaint, I will protest on the streets,” said the model, who has planned to approach the Maharashtra CM for help.

She also told police that the BJP leader allegedly used to pass remarks at her and threatened her with dire consequences if she told anyone about the assault.

The complainant said she quit her job in July, 2018, due to the continuous assaults and harassment by the politician

The police have recorded the statements of the victim and are in the process of investigating the case and registering an FIR.

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

More raids on in Pune and Aurangabad, after Sanatan Sanstha member and bomb-maker Vaibhav Raut’s arrest, 2 more held in Pune and Palghar

In multiple raids across Maharashtra, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Friday arrested two more people after at least eight country-made bombs along with other explosives and literature were seized from the residence of Vaibhav Raut, a Sanatan Sanstha sympathiser earlier today.

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

While Raut has been arrested and is being questioned by police, two others were arrested from Pune and Palghar, reports the Indian Express.

More raids are currently underway in Pune and Aurangabad at the time of going to press, but the police are not revealing any further details.

The police have got several inputs and are following up all the leads.

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

All the three arrested accused were brought before the sessions court before being remanded to police custody till August 18.

Under the supervision of a senior IPS-rank officer, an ATS team raided the home of Vaibhav Raut in the wee hours of Friday and searches continued till early morning. Raut is likely to be placed under arrest and produced before a local court, sources told the Indian Express.

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

According to further news updates, the court remanded Raut to police custody till August 18.

The explosives have been handed over to the Mumbai Forensic Science Laboratory to ascertain its nature.

“We want to know source of these explosives and how Raut intended to use them and therefore his custodial interrogation is necessary,” said an official requesting anonymity.

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

While the right-wing terror outfit denied Raut being an active member, Sanatan Sanstha advocate Sanjeev Punelikar told the press that Raut was acquainted to its member.

“Raut had been externed by the Palghar police in connection with a beef ban case. While he is a Hindutva worker, he isn’t our member. However I doubt the ATS claim of he hoarding explosives,” he said.

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

Punelikar added that the outfit will provide Raut legal aid.

After the arrest of far-right extremist Vaibhav Raut, said to be an active member of the Sanatan Sanstha, videos and other evidence has surfaced on social media which shows that Raut was linked not just with the Sanstha, but was closely associated with the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, the Sri Ram Sena and several other far-right extremist Hindutva organisations.

Also Read: Top leaders of pro-Hindutva outfit including a retired Indian Army Colonel hatched Gauri Lankesh murder plot, claims SIT 

He was also part of an unnamed secret core group or unit or hit team formed by pulling in hardliners from different Hindutva outfits and trained or tasked to kill and eliminate anti-Hindu voices.

Writer and journalist was one of the victims of this unnamed killer unit. The police suspect that the murders of liberalists Dhabolkar, Pansare and Kulbargi were carried out by the same team.

with inputs from the Indian Express