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Anti-terror squad looks for ‘Murali’, brains behind killings, terror plots since 2008

Police believe the mystery man masterminded the killings of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.

mumbai Updated: Sep 05, 2018 05:07 IST
Manish K Pathak
Manish K Pathak
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Dr Narendra Dabholkar,Govind Pansare,MM Kalburgi
All five accused told their interrogators that Murali had instructed Amol Kale to execute the September 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru.(Arijit Sen/HT Photo)

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has turned its focus to finding a man from Marathwada who they believe masterminded attacks and the killings of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.

Two ATS officials — one from Pune and one from Mumbai — told HT on condition of anonymity that a man called MD Murali was behind these killings, as well as several alleged terror plots since 2008.

The officials, investigating the role of alleged sympathisers of the right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha in these murders and various terror plots over the past five years, said they identified Murali, after questioning Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanva Gondhalekar, Shrikant Pangarkar and Avinash Pawar — the five men the ATS has arrested over the past few weeks in connection with the attacks.

ATS sources said all five men told their interrogators that Murali was the person communicating details about every operation since 2008, including the planting of a bomb at a Panvel theatre in 2008.

All five accused told their interrogators that Murali had instructed Amol Kale, arrested by the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT), to execute the September 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru. Kale is possibly the only person who may have more details about Murali, as he took direct orders from him, the officials said. Murali is also believed to have given instructions to Virendrasinh Tawde, shown as the mastermind behind Dabholkar’s murder. In August this year, agencies arrested Sachin Andure, who allegedly shot Dabholkar dead.

Andure was apprehended from Aurangabad.

“None of the accused has seen the man they name as Murali. We believe ‘Murali’ itself to be a code name,” said one investigating officer, requesting anonymity. “All the accused used code names when they exchanged calls and messages,” the officer said. To find out more about Murali, the Maharashtra ATS now plans to take Kale’s custody from Karnataka. The ATS has also shared Murali’s name with its counterparts in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, as well as with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that has been conducting a parallel probe into the case.

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 05:05 IST