Mumbai , Aug 20 : Former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar was arrested by Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from Jalna on Sunday for plotting to carry out attacks in five cities of Maharashtra after crude bombs and weapons from different parts of the state were seized between August 9 and 11.
Radical Hindu groups planned to carry out attacks in Maharashtra and ATS arrested three persons including one affiliated with the right- wing outfit : Vaibhav Raut (40), Sharad Kalaskar (25) and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar (39) following raids on August 11 in the Palghar district and spanned to Pune.
Pangarkar’s being the first political arrest in the case and is a part of an investigation by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) , which has 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.
Pangarkar was arrested under the Explosives Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, ATS official added.
During interrogation, the accused revealed that Pangarkar had helped assemble the explosives and store them. While the Shiv Sena said it didn’t have any links with Pangarkar.
Twenty-two crude bombs and 21 country-made weapons have so far been recovered from the accused in the case, who were allegedly planning to carry out attacks in Mumbai, Solapur, Satara, Pune and Nalasopara.
Pangarkar was a corporator in Jalna Municipal Council for two terms, from December 2001 to December 2011.
ATS chief Atulchandra Kulkarni said the accused had stored a huge cache of explosive materials, and they would be questioned about all cases where involvement of right-wing extremists is suspected.
“We will question them regarding all detected and undetected cases, including Dabholkar, Pansare and Gauri Lankesh (murder) cases,” he said.
The ATS said it zeroed in on the accused after it received a tip off that some persons were planning to carry out “acts of conspiracy” at many places across the state.
“We also received information that these persons had stored vast quantities of arms and ammunition in places such as Satara, Nallasopara and Pune. We were able to get their phone numbers and thus, ascertained their identities,” the Additional Public Prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves told the sessions court in Mumbai while seeking the accused’s custody.
A police officer has said that Raut allegedly ran ‘Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti’, a little-known pro-cow protection outfit, in Nallasopara.
While his purported social media account mentioned that he was associated with the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha, the outfit on Friday denied that Raut was its member.