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.