Mumbai: The Maharashtra ATS today told a sessions court here that suspected right-wing activist Avinash Pawar had carried out reconnaissance of several persons who were on the target list of a radical Hindu group for speaking against the religion. Pawar, linked to the extremist group, was arrested by the state’s Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) on August 24 in a case pertaining to seizure of explosives and arms from several parts of Maharashtra early this month. He was the fifth person to be arrested in the case.
He was produced before the sessions court today where ATS sought additional 14 days custody stating that the agency had to interrogate him to ascertain the role of each accused and to find out if more persons were involved. Additional sessions judge Vinod Padalkar remanded Pawar to ATS custody till September 4.
The ATS told the court that Pawar had carried out reconnaissance of several people including Mukta Dabholkar, daughter of slain rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, social activist Shyam Manav, NCP MLA Jitendra Avhad and a few others who were on his target list for speaking against Hindu religion. The court, however, pointed out that there were several loose ends in the ATS case and said that the agency had not submitted all details pertaining to the investigation in the remand application or the case diary.
“Do not come to the court half-heartedly. The court cannot compromise with the accused person’s rights,” Judge Padalkar said.
The ATS had arrested four persons – Vaibhav Raut, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, Sharad Kalaskar on August 10 and Shrikant Pangarkar on August 19 – and booked them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Indian Penal Code, Explosive Substances Act and Explosives Act. The four accused are in ATS custody till September 4. ATS had earlier claimed that the accused were suspected right-wing activists and had planned to target a western music concert in Pune last year.
According to ATS, the accused were also involved in hurling a petrol bomb outside a movie theatre in Kalyan, in adjoining Thane district, where controversial Hindi film “Padmaavat” was being screened in January this year. The ATS had seized a CPU from Pawar’s house and a mobile phone used by him, the official said. The arrested persons had a plan to trigger blasts at various places in the state, according to the investigators.