Arrested hardliners trying to hoodwink ATS, now claim the bombs were for Maratha agitation

The three arrested accused affiliated to far-right Hindutva groups told the Maharashtra ATS on Wednesday, they wanted to support the Maratha agitation for reservation in jobs and education by setting off bombs near Maratha morchas to send the government a “strong” message, reports the Indian Express.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners Raut, Gondhalekar and Kalaskar planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

However, senior ATS officials debunked their statements saying the accused are hardened criminals and are experts at delaying tactics. They are probably trying to gain the sympathy of the interrogating officers, by making emotional statements.

The actual plan may be very different. We are investigation all angles, the officer told IndiaScoops.com.

Also Read: 150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested hardliners

ATS investigations following the arrests at Nallasopara and Satara and the seizure of a huge cache of explosives on August 9 have found that the three men planned to trigger a blast around 100 to 150 metres away from the next Maratha morcha.

Sources said that the men wanted to send a stern message to the establishment to take note of their demands even if there were no casualties, reports Indian Express.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut, other Gau Rakshaks were involved in extortion in the guise of cow protection: Extortion money was used to fund purchase of arms

The ATS officials are taking these claims with a pinch of salt. The hardliners have an inter-state network with bases in Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

They received logistical and financial support from various States. The Maratha agitation is a localized issue and confined only to Maharashtra. It is very unlikely that the bombs were intended for the Maratha reservation issue, an ATS official told IndiaScoops.com.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

The ATS received a tip-off from the Karnataka SIT investigating the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. Vaibhav Raut’s name was found in Amol Kale’s diary – one of the arrested accused in the Gauri Lankesh’s murder,

Kale was also part of the same inter-state gang, headed by unknown persons one of whom is alleged to be a retired army colonel.

The Karnataka SIT sent an SOS to the Maharashtra ATS detailing the role of Raut and others and his association with Kale. The ATS kept watch for a couple of days and then raided Raut’s residence and office, where a huge cache of arms and explosives were found, enough to support about 20 assassins.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha has 22 different outfits, registered in different States under different names

Why would such an inter-state team of killers be interested in a local agitation. The agenda was much bigger on a national scale, an ATS official suggested.

According to the ATS, the three men were also planning to carry out attacks in Mumbai, Pune, Satara, Solapur and Nallasopara and that the bombs they had assembled were low-intensity and meant to cause commotion and chaos, besides instill fear.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha wants to set up a Saffron Army of 2000 trained killers and shooters for terrorist activity

“The Maratha morchas were among their targets. During questioning, the accused have said that the crude bombs were assembled for the purpose of triggering a blast at the next Maratha protest. They planned to hurl low-intensity country-made bombs a few hundred metres away from the protest sites so that a strong message is sent to the establishment,” said a senior official, according to the Indian Express report.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

One of the arrested men, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar (39) is a member of the Shri Shivpratishthan Hindustan whose chief is Sambhaji Bhide. Bhide has been booked by the Pune Police in two criminal cases in connection with the violence near Bhima Koregaon on January 1. He is considered close to PM Narendra Modi who has openly declared him to be his guru and source of inspiration.

Sources said that Bhide had also supported Maratha groups demanding reservation in education and jobs.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

The other two arrested are Vaibhav Raut (40), a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti, who is also an alleged sympathiser of the right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha and Sharad Kasalkar (25) who was arrested with Raut from Raut’s Nallasopara residence. The ATS had recovered 22 crude bombs from Raut’s residence and shop.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

“Gondhalekar has been closely tracking the stir called by Maratha groups. He was also part of many WhatsApp groups that were floated in support of the Maratha morchas. We suspect it was his idea to carry out the blasts during these morchas to support the cause,” said an official. “These are claims made by the accused, we are verifying this with digital and electronic evidence to see if what they are saying is true or if they are misleading us.”

While the digital footprint of their activities on various social media platforms and messenger services are being retrieved and studied, investigators are also combing CCTV footage from various locations they claimed to have visited.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut wanted to do a repeat of Malegaon Blasts

“Kasalkar and Raut were assigned the task of conducting reconnaissance and they claimed to have visited a few cities during and after the stir,” a senior official said. Sources said that besides the Maratha morchas, there are other protests and agitations on their radar, reports the Indian Express.

Police also said that several crude bombs recovered from Raut’s house were found hidden in a storage cavity in the bed.

Also Read: More Air Pistols, Pellets, Explosives Seized From Suspect Vaibhav Raut

“Eight bombs recovered from his residence were kept hidden in his bed. Since Raut was a local leader and a self-styled gaurakshak, he offered his residence to assemble and keep the bombs for safekeeping,” said an official.

An ATS team Wednesday conducted fresh raids at Raut’s Nallasopara residence and seized a Toyota Innova vehicle registered in his name.

The ATS also seized four air pistols, 20 air pistol pellets stored in matchbox-sized boxes, two CPUs, two notebooks, a diary, three mobile phones and two SIM cards, reports Indian Express.

with inputs from The Indian Express

With the arrest of Hindutva Terrorist Vaibhav Raut, Butchers, Meat-traders breathe easy in Nala Sopara

Nalasopara has heaved a big sigh of relief after the arrest of suspected Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut, who had allegedly terrorized his neighbourhood with his activities, reports Mid-day.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners had planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

According to the police, Raut, who called himself a gau rakshak, has been involved in a series of attacks on butchers in the area every Bakri-eid.

The ‘gau rakshak’ had terrorised the area with his activities, carrying out illegal raids on meat shops and creating communal tension in the area, say police

Raut allegedly tried to create communal tension, particularly in the neighbouring Sopara village, by harassing locals and carrying out illegal raids on mutton and beef shops.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut, other Gau Rakshaks were involved in extortion in the guise of cow protection: Extortion money was used to fund purchase of arms

Every year, the police would extern him from the area for short periods, by serving him notices under section 144 of the Mumbai Police Act.

Raut, however, would stay put by bringing in political influence in the name of cow protection, said an officer, adding that even the police will breathe easy after his arrest.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

Living in terror
Sopara village’s Muslim community, especially the butchers, lived in fear and insecurity due to Raut’s activities — even when beef hadn’t been banned by the government, he would go around conducting ‘raids’ on meat shops and harassing the owners, said a local, Anis Qureshi.

Also Read: 150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested hardliners

Speaking to Mid-day, he added, “In 2014, Raut forcibly stopped my tempo in his area and assaulted the driver.

The driver called me and I went to the spot, but Raut and his colleague abused and assaulted me too, saying I was smuggling cow meat.

They forcibly took me and my tempo to Nalasopara police station.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha has 22 different outfits, registered in different States under different names

I have never carried or supplied cow meat; after I showed all the relevant documents to the cops, they let me go and registered a case against Raut and his colleague.

“Large numbers of Muslims as well as gau rakshaks had gathered outside the police station that day… he had succeeded in creating communal tension; clashes could have erupted anytime. Huge police bandobast was then deployed in the area, for the first time in the history of Nalasopara.”

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha wants to set up a Saffron Army of 2000 trained killers and shooters for terrorist activity

Policespeak
“There are two cases of rioting and one of not following the district collector’s order registered against Raut at Nalasopara police station. Since 2015, we have been serving him notices to leave the area during Bakri-eid to maintain law and order there,” said Datta Totewar, SDPO, Nalasopara Division of Palghar district.

Source: Mid-day

150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested Sanatan Sanstha, HJS activists Raut and Gondhalekar 

The arrested hardliners Vaibhav Raut and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar were looking to procure about 150 pistols, 100 bombs and over 3000 bullets of different caliber for use in the coming 6-8 months, police sources revealed today.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha has 22 different outfits, registered in different States under different names

Vaibhav Raut a violent gau rakshak was the co-founder of a cow protection group, Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti set up in 2014.

The group is allegedly associated with Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, Shiv Prathisthan and the Sanatan Sanstha, all of which are radical far-right Hindutva organizations.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners had planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

Local Congress politicians and meat traders in Palghar from where Raut was arrested have termed him an extortionist who would extort money from meat transporters and fund his illegal arms manufacturing activity.

Investigations have revealed that while Raut put up a facade of being a devout Hindu and a cow protector among his local Bhandari community, he was involved in gun-running, smuggling of explosives and arms from parts of North India and money laundering using hawala.

He was part of an inter-state network of radical Hindutva agents whose aim was to create chaos and riots in the country.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha wants to set up a Saffron Army of 2000 trained killers and shooters for terrorist activity

The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) found a mini arms-making unit or factory and is now probing their links in Uttar Pradesh and Assam, official sources said on Monday.

The arrested persons were in the process of procuring machines and lathes to make country-made pistols and also fabricate bullets. They had obtained training from illegal arms manufacturing units in UP and Bihar, ATS sources revelaed. Imported arms were procured from Assam.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut, other Gau Rakshaks were involved in extortion in the guise of cow protection: Extortion money was used to fund purchase of arms

On Friday, last week, the ATS created a sensation by claiming to have unearthed a terror plot targeting Mumbai, Pune, Satara and Solapur ahead of Independence Day celebrations and the upcoming Bakri Eid festival.

In the ATS swoop, three right-wing activists were arrested – Vaibhav Raut, 40, Sharad Kalaskar, 25, both from Nala Sopara in Palghar, and Sudhanav Gondhalekar, 39, from Pune.

Also Read: 35-40 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

Over a dozen other associates or suspects have been interrogated to ascertain their connections in other parts of the state or outside and certain email exchanges between the accused with references to Uttar Pradesh and Assam shall be probed.

Continuing the raids and probe over the weekend in Palghar, around 60 km north of Mumbai, the ATS has found a mini arms production unit and seized at least five country-made pistols, three incomplete pistols, 11 cartridges of 9 mm pistols and 30 cartridges of 7.65 mm pistols, springs, triggers and other material, reports news agency IANS.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

However, another media report claims over 11 pistols and 5 unfinished pistols were seized. At least a dozen fake motorcycle and four wheeler number plates were seized from the accused.

In the Pune raids, the ATS seized a laptop, six hard disks, five pendrives, nine mobiles and many SIM cards, a WiFI dongle, scores of documents and papers, besides a car and a motorcycle.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

During the raids in Palghar on Friday, the ATS seized 20 crude bombs and material and explosives that could be used to make at least two-to-four dozen or 50 more bombs.

The seizures included 22 non-electronic detonators, 1,500 gm of explosive powder, wire bundles, resistors, transistors, 10 batteries of six volts each and a connector, multi-meters, switches and circuits, connectors, gelatin sticks, two bottles marked as ‘poison’, diagrams and literature, all of which have been sent for forensic analysis.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

While Raut is described as a prominent ‘gau-rakshak’ and linked with Hindu Janjagran Samiti, Gondhalekar is connected with the Shri Shivpratisthan, spearheaded by the controversial 85-year-old Sambhaji Bhide alias Bhide Guruji, which has patronage of the PM Narendra Modi. Modi has openly admired Bhide and called him his guru or mentor.

with inputs from IANS and Indian Express

Chidambaram blasts BJP, RSS after ATS arrests 3 with a huge cache of arms and explosives and links to extremist Hindu outfits

A day after the Maharashtra ATS arrested three men affiliated to radical Hindu outfits for plotting terror attacks, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday, August 11 asked if the RSS and BJP would condemn those outfits.”Maharashtra ATS announced the arrest of three men affiliated to radical Hindu outfits.

Who rules Maharashtra? The BJP. Hindu, Muslim or any other religion, radicalism is radicalism. Terror is terror. There is no purpose in burying one’s head in the sand,” said Chidambaram on Twitter.”Will the RSS and BJP condemn those who are plotting and planning terror attacks?” he asked.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Friday claimed to have foiled a terrorist attempt to strike in different parts of the state following the arrest of three persons and seizure of at least 20 crude bombs and explosives and material used in bomb-making.

Official sources said the first to be arrested early Friday was Hindu Janjagran Samiti (HJS) activist Vaibhav Raut from his home in Nala Sopara, Palghar district, just north of Mumbai.Later, his accomplice Sharad Kalaskar was arrested from there by the ATS teams, which were accompanied by a dog squad and forensics experts.

A third right-wing activist Sudhnava Gondhalekar—allegedly linked to Shri Shiv Pratisthan—was arrested from Pune.The sources said that the accused planned to carry out terror hits in Mumbai, Pune, Solapur and Satara districts in the coming few days.

Source: Nagpur Today

Huge cache of arms including pistols, unfinished pistols, choppers, knives, detonators, fake number plates seized from Sanatan Sanstha accused

Mumbai: A day after a terror ring was busted and three persons arrested, the Pune unit of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has laid its hands on a huge cache of arms at the residence of one of the arrested accused on Saturday.

The seizures, which officials say hints towards something sinister, include country-made pistols, firearms, an air gun, automobile number plates, choppers and knives.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha members Raut, Gondhalekar, etc., linked to PM Modi, Amit Shah, VHP and RSS

The Maharashtra ATS has also detained and questioned 15 more persons from multiple locations in the state.

The suspects have been picked up from Pune, Pandharpur, Satara and Solapur, among other cities.

Also Read: 35 bombs could be manufactured with explosives seized from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut residence and office

The names came to the fore during the questioning of the arrested trio. The suspects are being questioned to ascertain if they were part of a conspiracy to target several cities with the cache of crude bombs and the weapons that have been seized.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

Following the arrest of the main accused Vaibhav Raut (40), a gau rakshak (cow protector) in the early hours of Friday with a cache of explosives and his accomplice Sharad Kalaskar (25), the ATS learnt of one Sudhanwa Gondhalekar (39), from Pune and apprehended him.

He is suspected to be associated with Sambhaji Bhide’s right-wing organisation Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

Searches conducted at the residence of Gondhalekar have led the ATS to 10 country-made pistols, crude firearms, an air gun, 10 pistol barrels, six incomplete pistol bodies, six magazines, three incomplete magazines, seven pistol slides, 16 relay switches, six automobile number plates, a trigger mechanism, a chopper and steel knife each from Gondhalekar’s residence.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

“The house also had some electronic items, a handbook on explosives, printouts of explosive and mobile phones, circuit drawings of relay switches, some pen drives, hard disks and memory cards, all of which have been seized. We will have to send the storage devices for forensic analysis to ascertain their contents,” said an ATS officer.

They have been sent to the Forensic Sciences Laboratory at Kalina for analysis. The ATS will be adding fresh sections as per provisions of the Arms Act in the case.

About 35-40 bombs could be manufactured from the explosives recovered from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut’s Palghar house

ATS and police sources revealed that over two dozen bombs or nearly 35  to 40 small explosive devices – enough to create a small blast and widespread terror – could be manufactured from the total quantity of gun powder, other explosives and detonators seized by the Maharashtra ATS from Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut’s house and office at Palghar on Friday morning.

Also Read: Besides Sanatan Sanstha & HJS member Vaibhav Raut, two more persons arrested by Maha ATS

According to media reports, the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has recovered at least eight country-made bombs from the house of a man related to Sanatan Sansthan in Nala Sopara.

The squad also recovered raw material to make explosives, gun powder and detonators and timers  from a nearby shop, which served as the office of the arrested accused Vaibhav Raut.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut from whom 8 bombs and explosives were seized was actively involved with Sanatan Sanstha for last 6 years

According to sources, the raw material found at the shop includes large quantity of gun powder and detonators, enough to make over two dozen bombs, reports India TV.

The Hindustan Times reports that the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police arrested a suspected member of a right-wing Hindu organisation at Nallasopara in Palghar district near Mumbai and seized eight crude bombs and explosives from his house late Thursday.

The activity at the Palghar office was going on for the last six months or so.

Raut was under surveillance by the Maha ATS after receiving intelligence from the Kerala SIT investigating the murder of writer and journalist Gauri Lankesh. Amol Kale, another Sanatan Sanstha member arrested for the murder of Gauri Lankesh had revealed the name of Vaibhav Raut and told investigators that Raut was a member of a right-wing extremist group, involved in murder and killing of anti-Hindu voices. A diary with about 36 names was recovered by the SIT.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

Vaibhav Raut (40) allegedly belongs to Sanatan Sanstha and has been a member of the group since 2012. He will be produced before the Bhoiwada court on Friday afternoon, reports HT.

An ATS team with a dog squad searched Raut’s ground floor house at Bandarali village in Sopara, Nalasopara (west). The search operations continued till early Friday, said ATS sources.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha like cancer, a killing agency and breeding ground for murderers, ban it, demands Goa-based Sahitya writer Damodar Mauzo

“Raut used his estate agency office to store and make the bombs and we have seized materials like gun powder, detonators and other articles which could make a dozen more crude bombs. We believe Raut used his office as a front to make the bombs,” an ATS officer was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.

Suvez Haque, deputy inspector general of the ATS refused to comment on the incident and said all queries will be answered from HQ ATS as per protocol.

Also Read: Sanathan Sanstha a nodal agency for radicals involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, money for hits, was routed through donations made to Sanstha

In April 2017, the Maharashtra government sent a proposal to the Centre seeking a ban on Sanatan Sanstha.

The Goa-headquartered outfit was linked to two high profile murder cases, including that of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, and also terror activities in Goa and Maharashtra.

with inputs from India Tv and Hindustan Times

Besides Sanatan Sanstha and HJS member Vaibhav Raut, two more persons arrested by Maha ATS, huge quantity of explosives seized in overnight raid

In multiple raids across Maharashtra, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Friday arrested two more people after at least eight country-made bombs along with a huge quantity of gun powder and other explosives, including detonators and timers and literature were seized from the residence of Vaibhav Raut, a Sanatan Sanstha member on Friday morning.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha member’s Palghar home raided, 8 live bombs, detonators, other explosives recovered

While Raut has been arrested and is being questioned by police, two others were arrested from Pune and Palghar. Raids are currently underway in Pune and Aurangabad.

Under the supervision of a senior IPS-rank officer, an ATS team raided the home of Vaibhav Raut in the wee hours of Friday and searches continued till early morning.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut from whom 8 bombs and explosives were seized was actively involved with Sanatan Sanstha for last 6 years

Raut is likely to be placed under arrest and produced before a local court, sources told The Indian Express.

The explosives have been handed over to the Mumbai Forensic Science Laboratory to ascertain its nature.

Also Read: Arrested for possession of explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

“We want to know source of these explosives and how Raut intended to use them and therefore his custodial interrogation is necessary,” said an official requesting anonymity.

While the right-wing terror outfit denied Raut being an active member, Sanatan Sanstha advocate Sanjeev Punelikar told the press that Raut was acquainted to its member.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha like cancer, a killing agency and breeding ground for murderers, ban it, demands Goa-based Sahitya writer Damodar Mauzo

The Sanatan Sanstha issued a press note claiming that Vaibhav Raut was a part of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS). However, he has not been active for the past couple of months.

HJS Maharashtra organiser Sunil Ghanvat said Raut is a fearless cow protector (gau rakshak). But he denied Raut was actively involved with his organisation.

Also Read: Sanathan Sanstha a nodal agency for radicals involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, money for hits, was routed through donations made to Sanstha

Both the Sanatan Sanstha and the HJS got into a war of words, each trying to deny Raut’s assocation with their organisation, claiming that he was just a sympathizer.

“Raut had been externed by the Palghar police in connection with a beef ban case. While he is a hindutva worker, he isn’t our member. However I doubt the ATS claim of he hoarding explosives,” he said. Punelikar added that the outfit will provide Raut legal aid.

Arrested by ATS for possession of bombs and explosives, Vaibhav Raut was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and a vociferous Gau-Rakshak

The Maharashtra Anti Terror Squad (ATS) has recovered at least eight country-made bombs and other explosives and detonators from the house of Sanathan Sanstha worker Vaibhav Raut, reports India Today.

From the initial investigation, it seems the bomb-making activity was going on for at least six months, prior to the raid on Friday.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha member’s Palghar home raided, 8 live bombs, detonators, other explosives recovered

In a late night raid, the squad searched Raut’s house and a nearby local shop in Palghar.

According to a source, at least eight country-made live bombs were recovered from his residence. A lot of other hardware and electronic items like timers and detonators were also found, as was testing equipment like multi-meters and other electronic circuits used to make remote controlled detonators.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha like cancer, a killing agency and breeding ground for murderers, ban it, demands Goa-based Sahitya writer Damodar Mauzo

The team also seized raw material like gunpowder and detonators from a nearby shop.

The police claimed that a large amount of gunpowder was seized which is enough to make over two dozen bombs. It is surprising how such a huge amount of explosives were stocked at Raut’s residence.

Also Read: Probe into Gauri Lankesh’s murder reveals links to extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha

Raut who was at home during raids has been taken into custody. The dog squad was also present during the raid.

Vaibhav Raut has been associated with Sanatan Sanstha and a few other Hindu organisation from Nalasopara near Mumbai.

Also Read: Sanathan Sanstha a nodal agency for radicals involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, money for hits, was routed through donations made to Sanstha

He will be produced in the court in afternoon today, after police complete the paper work including preparing the remand application.

Passing the buck

The Sanatan Sanstha issued a press note claiming that Vaibhav Raut was a part of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS). However, he has not been active for the past couple of months.

HJS Maharashtra organiser Sunil Ghanvat said Raut is a fearless cow protector (gau rakshak). But he denied Raut was actively involved with his organisation.

Both the Sanatan Sanstha and the HJS got into a war of words, each trying to deny Raut’s assocation with their organisation, claiming that he was just a sympathizer.

Also Read: Top leaders of pro-Hindutva outfit including a retired Indian Army Colonel hatched Gauri Lankesh murder plot, claims SIT 

HJS claimed that Raut is a core member of the Sanatan Sanstha and would occasionally take part in HJS activities particularly cow protection.

However, Raut had not participated in any of the programmes for the past few months, Ghanvat added.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut from whom 8 bombs and explosives were seized was actively involved with Sanatan Sanstha for last 6 years

Sunil Ghanvat called Raut’s arrest a “needless harassment of Hindu organisation activists” to implicate them into false cases.

“This has been amply proved through the Malegaon case. And then the arrest of many innocent followers of Sanatan Sanstha. Raut is an instance of Malegaon Part 2,” Ghanvat said.

with inputs from India Today and India TV

Palghar Estate Agent Vaibhav Raut from whom 8 bombs, detonators and explosives were seized was with the Sanatan Sanstha for last 6 years

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.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha member’s Palghar home raided, 8 live bombs, detonators, other explosives recovered

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.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha like cancer, a killing agency and breeding ground for murderers, ban it, demands Goa-based Sahitya writer Damodar Mauzo

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.

Also Read: Probe into Gauri Lankesh’s murder reveals links to extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha

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.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder accused confesses to being indoctrinated at Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha other Hindu outfits involved

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.

Also Read: Sanathan Sanstha a nodal agency for radicals involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, money for hits, was routed through donations made to 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.

Also Read: Top leaders of pro-Hindutva outfit including a retired Indian Army Colonel hatched Gauri Lankesh murder plot, claims SIT 

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.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh shooter kept in house rented by man from Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha

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).

Also Read: SIT claims Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the Main Agency to carry out Killings

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.

Sanatan Sanstha member’s Palghar home raided, 8 live bombs, detonators, other explosives recovered

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) recovered at least eight country-made bombs and about 5 unfinished or partially made bombs, fuses, detonators along with other explosives and fuses and other literature from the residence of a Sanatan Sanstha member while conducting raids at his residence in Palghar.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha like cancer, a killing agency and breeding ground for murderers, ban it, demands Goa-based Sahitya writer Damodar Mauzo

An ATS team under the supervision of a senior IPS-rank officer raided the home of Vaibhav Raut in the wee hours of Friday and searches continued till early morning.

Raut, who has been taken into custody for questioning, is likely to be placed under arrest and produced before a local court, sources said.

Also Read: Probe into Gauri Lankesh’s murder reveals links to extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha

The explosives have been handed over to the Mumbai Forensic Science Laboratory to ascertain its nature.

The police are also investigation the source of the explosives. Initial investigations show that Raut obtained the gun powder from mining and quarrying companies in Maharashtra and Goa.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder accused confesses to being indoctrinated at Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha other Hindu outfits involved

“We want to know source of these explosives and how Raut intended to use them and therefore his custodial interrogation is necessary,” said an official requesting anonymity.

It seems that Raut was a professional and was into the activity for at least a year. He was involved with a few far-right extremist Hindutva organisations and was also involved in harassing meat traders in Maharashtra, by intercepting vehicles transporting meat or cattle.

Also Read: Sanathan Sanstha a nodal agency for radicals involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, money for hits, was routed through donations made to Sanstha

While the right-wing terror outfit denied Raut being an active member, Sanatan Sanstha advocate Sanjeev Punelikar told the media that Raut was acquainted to one of its members.

“Raut had been externed by the Palghar police in connection with a beef ban case. While he is a Hindutva worker, he isn’t our member.

Also Read: Vaibhav Raut from whom 8 bombs and explosives were seized was actively involved with Sanatan Sanstha for last 6 years

The Sanatan Sanstha claimed Raut was part of another Hindutva organisation, while the police claim that he was associated with at least one dozen far-right hardline Hindutva organisations in the country.

More facts will come to light as police interrogate the accused after obtaining remand. Sources claim that Raut was also linked to the group involved in the murder of writer and journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Also Read: Top leaders of pro-Hindutva outfit including a retired Indian Army Colonel hatched Gauri Lankesh murder plot, claims SIT 

“However I doubt the ATS claim of he hoarding explosives,” he said. Punelikar added that the outfit Sanatan Sanstha will provide Raut legal aid.

Sanatan Sanstha officials said Raut is being framed by the police because he was an active gau-rakshak.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh shooter kept in house rented by man from Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha

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 rationalists – Narendra Dabholkar (in 2013), Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi (both in 2015) and senior journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Also Read: SIT claims Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the Main Agency to carry out Killings

Both the Maharashtra police and the Central Bureau of Investigation probing the cases have questioned the outfit’s founder Jayant Balaji Athavale in the past.

Calling the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha an “extra-constitutional authority” and a “cancer” whose spread should be stopped, prominent activists from Goa have demanded a ban on it.

Also Read: Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha was the main Agency to carry out Killings, Gauri Lankesh was Second on a ‘Hitlist’ of 36 targets

Stressing on the need for such a move, Prashant Naik, a social activist, told PTI that legal luminaries should be roped in by the state government to place before the court the need for a ban.

“We lost an ‘open-and-shut’ 2009 Margao blast case due to poor legal support during the trial,” he pointed out.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killer

Two men, including one allegedly from the Sanatan Sanstha, died in 2009 while they were transporting explosives to be reportedly planted in a crowded area in Margao.

with inputs from Indian Express