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Maharashtra ATS claims ‘NH4’ code may help link murders of rationalists

ATS claimed to have decoded the communication between the arrested accused, who used the code ‘NH4 wala kaam’

mumbai Updated: Aug 30, 2018 09:50 IST
Manish K Pathak
Manish K Pathak
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,ATS,Sanatan Sanstha
Rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune, in 2013.(AP)

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) claimed to have narrowed down on the possible mastermind behind the terror plot hatched by the six recently arrested alleged sympathisers of Hindu right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha.

ATS also claimed to have decoded the communication between the arrested accused, who used the code ‘NH4 wala kaam’ (Work on NH4), where NH4 stands for the erstwhile National Highway 4 that connects Mumbai to Chennai via Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Belagavi and Bengaluru — areas where rationalists Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh were killed.

“It could be a crucial code to prove the possible link between the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi and Lankesh,” said the officer. “The blasts outside theatres in Thane and Belagavi, which were engineered by the accused, further points to the links and their operational capabilities in these regions.” The mastermind, meanwhile, is a leader of a religious sect from Maharashtra that is closely associated with Sanatan Sanstha, said ATS officers, who did not wish to be named.

The Goa-headquartered Sanatan Sanstha, however, has distanced itself from the arrested persons and said they are not its members.

The ATS is now probing links of the sect leader, who they claim is the mastermind, with Dr Virendrasinh Tawde, who the CBI claims conspired to kill Dabholkar.

According to multiple ATS officers, who did not wish to be named, the sect leader would send the arrested members to conduct reconnaissance before planning the hits on the identified targets. Once the members returned with their findings of the reconnaissance, plans were made to execute the hits.

The Maharashtra ATS and CBI have together arrested six persons, including Vaibhav Raut, Sudhanva Ghondalekar, Sharad Kalaskar, Shrikant Pangarkar, Avinash Pawar and Santosh Andhure, after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the Karnataka police arrested a key accused in the Lankesh murder, and later shared information with the other agencies.

First Published: Aug 30, 2018 00:54 IST