Mumbai: The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested on Friday morning three persons — two from Nalasopara and one from Pune – on the charge of engaging in terrorist activities. These arrests were made after the ATS found 20 crude bombs and other explosive materials at the residence of Vaibhav Raut (40) at Nalasopara. Raut was allegedly a member of right wing outfits — Hindu Janjagruti and Sanatan Sanstha – a matter which the ATS is investigating.
However, within few hours of the arrest, the Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson denied any links and distanced itself from Raut. In a statement, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti termed Raut’s arrest as “Malegaon part II”, reports NDTV. The group was referring to the arrest of several leading Hindu functionaries, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, during the investigations into the Malegaon blasts in a Muslim locality that killed seven and injured over 80.
Interestingly, Raut’s social media account on Facebook, suggests a direct association with Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. Raut has uploaded on his account photographs and videos of the various programmes organised by the Hindu Janjagruti and Sanatan Sanstha. The ATS said they had under surveillance a few mobile numbers for over a month, on suspicion of terrorist activity in which this ‘gang’ was engaged in. The police further believe they were operating as a group and not individually.
Maharashtra ATS chief Atulchandra Kulkarni said, “We have questioned 15-16 people in connection with this case and arrested the three accused. We will be checking the antecedents of the accused and their links to detected and undetected cases. We are awaiting the FSL reports to confirm the nature of the explosives.”
The ATS also confirmed that the trio had transferred their sim cards to each other. After a few weeks of surveillance, the police knocked on Raut’s doors on Thursday night with a search warrant and detained him, as they found eight crude bombs on the premises. Besides, a chip was found with instructions on bomb manufacture. During investigations it was learnt, Raut had two accomplices, Sharad Kalaskar (25) and Sudanva Gondhalekar (39). The ATS lost no time in detaining Kalaskar from his Nalasopara residence and dispatched a team to arrest the Pune-based Gondhalekar.
The ATS has unearthed a warehouse near Raut’s residence which was used by the ‘group’ to assemble these bombs. In the police raid, 12 low intensity crude bombs, electronic and non-electronic detonators, 150 gm of a powdery substance and two bottles of one litre each, with the word ‘poison’ scribbled on them, along with other materials needed to make an electric circuit, were confiscated. The booty in confiscated bombs and other material has been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory at Kalina for further examination.
Refuting any association of Raut with the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, the state organiser Sunil Ghanvat said, “Vaibhav Raut is a daring cow protector (Gau Rakshak) and was active in an organisation dedicated to the protection of cows – the ‘Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti. He would also participate in programmes and agitations organised by Hindu organisations under the aegis of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti; however, Raut had not participated in any of the programmes since last few months.” The police have booked the accused under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act, the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. These sections pertain to attempt to cause explosion and for making or keeping explosives with intent to endanger life or property.
The Anti-Terror Squad produced accused Vaibhav Raut before Additional Session Judge Sameer Adkar along with two accomplices, Sharad Kalaskar and Sudanva Godhalekar. Incidentally, the Public Prosecutor did not disclose the remand copy to the defence advocate Sanjeev Punalekar, insisting that it comprises secret information.
The following articles were seized during the raid
- Bomb making manual
- 20 crude bombs
- Gelatine sticks
- 4 electronic detonators
- 22 non-electronic detonators
- Safety fuse wires
- Two complete PCB circuits
- Two one-litre bottles labelled ‘poison’
- Ten batteries
- Four relay switches
- Eight resistors
- Six transistors
- One hand-drawn circuit on paper