Maharashtra anti-terror squad arrests 3 for ‘plotting terror’, 20 bombs seized
In an early morning operation on Friday, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested three persons who allegedly planned terror activities in Satara, Pune, Solapur, and Mumbai, three investigators said on condition of anonymity.
They added that they seized 20 crude bombs and bomb-making material from the home and shop of one of the accused and claimed that the accused belong to Sanatan Sanstha, a right-wing Hindu group. The three were produced in Mumbai’s city civil and sessions court on Friday, and remanded to police custody till August 18. The accused, the police said while seeking remand, had planned to conduct terrorist activities.
The first to be arrested was 40-year-old Vaibhav Raut, a real estate agent from Nallasopara, a suburb in Palghar district approximately 35 km from Mumbai. ATS officials conducted a house search where, they said, they seized eight crude bombs.
The team then raided Raut’s shop in the same locality and seized 12 more crude bombs, two gelatine sticks, four electronic detonators, 22 non-electronic detonators, 150 gm of an unidentified white powder, along with electrical equipment, hardware and a hand-drawn electronic circuit.
Soon after Raut’s arrest, an associate right-wing Hindu outfit, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, issued a release stating Raut was a Gaurakshak (a cow protector), and that he was a Sanathan Sanstha seer. The release stated that he used to participate in the organisation’s programmes and agitations. It also said Raut had not participated in any of its events for the last few months.
Simultaneously, another ATS team arrested two others — Sharad Kalaskar and Sudhanva Gondhalekar — from Pune. Two police officers said Raut, Kalaskar and Gondhalekar were arrested on the basis of intelligence inputs provided by the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the September 2017 murder of Bengaluru journalist Gauri Lankesh.
“Karnataka SIT shared information with Maharashtra ATS on 10 persons closely linked to Kale,” one of the police officers added. HT was not able to confirm this independently. A member of the Karnataka SIT said he was not aware of any links between the cases but added that it was too early to comment. The accused alleged in court that they had been tortured by police officials. The court has called for their medical reports.
Minister of state for home (Rural) Deepak Kesarkar said forensic reports of the seized material will establish further details about their plans.