Even though the Sanatan Sanstha may deny it, the ATS team that arrested Vaibhav Raut and seized explosives and bombs from his residence and office at Palghar, have confirmed that Raut was an active member of the Sanatan Sanstha for the last six years.
This fact is proved that the Sanstha immediately deputed its advocate to liaison with the Maharashtra police in the arrest case. The Sanstha has extended complete support and help to the arrested accused Raut.
The Maharashtra ATS team along with forensic experts and a dog squad searched the ground floor house belonging to Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut, located at Bandarali village in Sopara, Nalasopara ( west) late on Thursday night and Friday morning.
Search operations continued till early Friday. Raut has been arrested. He is likely to be produced in the Bhoiwada court in Mumbai.
Around eight crude bombs and raw materials were seized. Raut (40), a real estate agent has been reportedly with the Sanstha since six years.
The search operation was carried out in the flat and the real estate office. The country made crude bombs were found in the house while gun powders and detonators were reportedly stocked in a shop from where Raut operated his real estate business.
According to media reports, the Sanatan Sanstha was used to as a conduit to collect and channel funds for the murder of writer and journalist Gauri Lankesh. Over 36 other targets were on the hit list of far-right extremist organisations with links to the Sanatan Sanstha.
The investigators are now looking at the source of these explosives and how Raut intended to use them.
Sources say that ATS team had been keeping a vigil on him fo some days and raided his house along with forensics team and dog squad late on Thursday night. The search operation is still on.
The ATS officials had a confidential tip about Raut’s activities and watched him for about 10-15 days before moving in.
The ATS has arrested Vaibhav Raut and will present him before the Bhoiwada Court in Mumbai later this afternoon after the proper paperwork and remand application.
Meanwhile, Raut’s lawyer Sanjiv Punalekar said that the ATS has not informed him about his client’s arrest. “Anti-Terrorism Squad has not intimidated us about arrest of Vaibhav Raut. Wonder what kind of law is being followed in this country and in Maharashtra. We’ll take all legal steps,” Punalekar told ANI on Friday morning.
Sanatan Santhan was founded in 1999 by Jayant Balaji Athavale.
Persons owing allegiance to Sanatan Sanstha have been arrested in four bombings in Vashi, Thane, Panvel (all in 2007) and Goa (in 2009) and in the murders of Narendra Dabholkar (in 2013), Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi (both in 2015).
In December 2015 Minister of State for Home informed in Rajya Sabha that, no links could be found among the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi.
Dabholkar’s family is claiming the link between the three murders and requesting court to club the cases.
However, the Central Bureau of Investigation have informed High Court that it is waiting for the ballistic report from Scotland Yard to link all three cases.