ATS may summon Sanatan Sanstha chief

Mumbai: The officials of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday said that they may summon Jayant Athawale, the chief of the Hindu right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha, in a terror conspiracy case investigation.

“If needed, we will call Dr. Jayant Athawale, who is the chief of Sanatan Sanstha for joining the investigation,” ATS sources revealed. The agency, however, made it clear that the investigations are not being carried out on the lines of any organisational linkages and till now no connection of the arrested accused persons have been established with Maratha Kranti Morcha.

“We are not investigating on the lines of any organisation but you are aware of their connections with organisations according to their social media profile,” sources said.

The Mumbai ATS has arrested Shiv Sena ex-corporator Shrikant Pangarkar and three more persons — Sharad Kalaskar, Vaibhav Raut and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar — for allegedly plotting terror attacks in Maharashtra. The agency has interrogated around two dozen people during the course of investigation. Pangarkar, who has been sent to police custody till August 28, is being investigated by the ATS for his alleged role in `harbouring and funding’ men accused of conspiring terror attacks in Maharashtra.

“We have also investigated around two dozen people in our ongoing investigation. Besides, we have seized weapons, ammunition and other articles that have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). We are waiting for the reports,” sources said.

Giving details of the terror attacks case, sources said that Pangarkar was in touch with Kalaskar, Raut and Gondhalekar for the past five-six years. “They are all highly trained and know how to make IEDs. They also used to communicate in code languages. There are hundreds of code words which we are trying to crack. They used to work in Silos small groups which works separately and are not in touch with each other. We are still to find out their chief operative, their targets, and how they procured the ammunitions etc,” sources said.

Pangarkar has been active in programmes of right wing organisations like the Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti and others. The Sanatan Sanstha in a statement has denied any kind of association with all these accused persons.
ATS sources further said that the agency had sent recommendations to the Maharashtra Government long back to ban the Sanatan Sanstha, which was forwarded to the Central Government in 2011-12.

“We have sent our recommendation long back to the state government and that was forwarded to the Central Government in 2011-12. After that a query was raised on our report which was duly responded in 2015….If asked again, we will send our report about the Sanatan Sanstha,” sources said.

Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation during interrogation of one Sachin Andure, arrested in the Dabholkar murder case, got hints of Pangarkar’s role in the killing of the rationalist in 2013.

The CBI along with the ATS, on Tuesday, recovered weapons including a country-made pistol and live cartridges during a raid in Aurangabad in Maharashtra, that were allegedly used to kill Dabholkar five years back. The CBI is investigating the Dabholkar murder case. The ATS is providing assistance to the CBI as and when needed.

“In our investigation till now, we don’t have anything about murders of other rationalists like Kalburgi, Pansare and Gauri Lankesh, etc. What we got to know about Dabholkar case we shared that with CBI ,” ATS source said.

The ATS is also likely to interrogate Amol Kale, one of the prime accused of murdering journalist Gauri Lankesh. Kale was recently arrested by the Special Investigation team in Karnataka and the ATS wants to probe if his threads are also connected with terror case.