Maharashtra ATS suspects ex-Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar played role of financier to buy explosives

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad suspects that former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar, 40, had provided financial assistance to buy the explosives found at right-wing activist Vaibhav Raut’s Nalasopara residence.

Pangarkar was arrested from Jalna on Sunday after his name cropped up during the interrogation of Sachin Andure by ATS and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The CBI had arrested Andure on Saturday and claimed that he was one of the assailants of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, who was shot dead on August 20, 2013.According to an ATS official, Pangarkar played a major role as a financier for the terror outfit, which had allegedly planned to strike in different parts of Maharashtra before Independence Day. Sources claimed Pangarkar had training in the manufacture of explosives. He had also conducted a recce of some areas where terror attacks had been planned.

Pangarkar, a former member of Jalna Municipal Corporation, was detained by CBI late on Saturday in connection with the killing of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar. After hours of interrogation, ATS also raided Pangarkar’s residence where they found hard disks, pen drives, three mobile phones and bank statements. ATS officials have booked Pangarkar under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act, Explosives Act, Unlawful Activities  (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code. Police will examine Pangarkar’s call data records to check direct links with the arrested trio — Raut, Sharad Kalaskar and Sudhanva Gondhalekar.

A senior ATS official, on condition of anonymity, said, “Based on the incriminating evidence found at Pangarkar’s house, he was placed under arrest. We are now trying to find evidence that will connect him to the conspiracy to organise attacks in five cities of Maharashtra along with the trio.”After the fourth arrest was made in connection with the seizure of crude bombs and weapons between August 9 and 11, ATS is probing the links of the arrested to the murders of rationalists Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, and journalist Gauri Lankesh.

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