‘That’ man still elusive; Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar keep Maharashtra ATS guessing

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad are on the look out for an elusive man allegedly known as MD Murali, an unknown entity who is the real link in the Nalasopara explosives haul. During the interrogation of right-wing activists, Vaibhav Raut and Sharad Kalaskar, both have time and again named this Murali as the ‘inspirational figure’ who is the alleged mastermind.

During their interrogation, Raut and Kalaskar revealed Murali led the unit responsible for the killings of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar in 2013 and journalist Gauri Lankesh. They were responsible for the bomb blast at Gadkari Rangayatan in 2008. The ATS officials are yet to ascertain the means of communication Murali used to flag messages to the underground operatives. Even during their raids in the Goa headquarters of the right-wing terror group Sanatan Sanstha they searched hard to get clues to find this elusive Murali.

Is there really any Murali? Is the question ATS is grappling with. Police suspect, ‘MD Murali’ is a pseudonym used by this mastermind to evade identification. An ATS official said, “All the accused have been using pseudonyms to address each other and hence we suspect, Murali may not be the actual name of the alleged mastermind. Police teams have already fanned out their informers to identify this Murali.”

Amol Kale (37), who was arrested for murdering Lankesh, was Murali’s second-in-command, said ATS sources. Murali also supervised the training sessions conducted at various places across the country. Sources claim, Murali conducted the meetings between the recruits including Raut and Kalaskar, where he indoctrinated them showing videos of Hindus as victims, were being targeted by Muslims.

During the training, Murali also asked them to change their looks everyday by donning a hat, sunglasses or changing their style of clothing to evade a pattern of detection. However, almost three months after the ATS arrested accused in Nalasopara explosives haul, they are yet to nab the mastermind. Till now the ATS has arrested seven persons in the case, who have been identified as Vaibhav Raut, Sudhanva Gondhalekar, Sharad Kalaskar, Avinash Pawar, Shrikant Pangarkar, Vasudev Suryavanshi and Vijay Lodhi. Some of the arrested accused were allegedly linked to Hindu extremist outfits, who had planned an explosion at the location of a popular western music festival ‘Sunburn’ which takes place in Pune.

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