Maharashtra anti-Terrorism squad (ATS) is planning to pick up at least five more people in Pune — including Shivram H. Apte, who had allegedly plotted the assassination of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) general secretary Mohan Bhagwat — under the Maharashtra Organised Crime Control Act (MCOCA).
An exclusive Hindustan Times report revealed on Friday that a senior Hindutva activist from Pune had been allegedly planning to kill top RSS leaders apparently for not doing enough for the Hindutva cause.
When this reporter tried to contact Apte, also known as Shamrao in RSS circles, his wife said he was suffering from low blood pressure and would not meet anybody for the next few days.Apte, however, remained cooped up inside his two-storied posh bungalow in Navsahyadri Society — Swastishri — throughout the day. Curiously, the office of Rakesh Dhawde, another accused in Malegaon bomb blast case, also lives in the same neighbourhood.
Although RSS leaders in Pune refused to comment officially on the ATS claim about Apte’s alleged assassination plan, Sangh insiders informed that Apte was in the United States till a few years back. He was an active RSS cadre also during his US days.
He returned to India in the mid-eighties to settle in Pune and continued to stay in the RSS fold. The sources said although Apte used to advise senior Sangh leaders on various issues, he always had apprehensions about the style of functioning of the RSS. And a few years back, he distanced himself from the Sangh as the gap widened further.
Apte also used to organise spiritual lectures at the basement of his bungalow. He was known to be contributing generously and raising finance for the cause of Hindutva. But his overt activities stopped suddenly.
A top ATS official said on condition of anonymity that apart from Abhinav Bharat president Himani Savarkar, Col. (retired) Jayant Chitale and former BJP corporator Milind Ekbote were under the squad’s watch.
Col Chitale is the founder of Maharashtra Military Foundation, where Lt. Col Prasad Purohit had received his training before joining the army.
Interestingly, a top retired army officer and a historian are also likely to be probed by the ATS. The sources said both were in close contact with Purohit and were present when Abhinav Bharat’s Pune unit was launched.