Maharashtra police's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) probed the Maharashtra arms haul case. (File)
The accused in the Maharashtra arms haul case were members of right-wing outfits like the Sanathan Sanstha and motivated to establish a 'Hindu Rashtra', police said in its chargesheet filed in a special court in Mumbai Wednesday.
The state police's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which probed the case, submitted its chargesheet against 12 accused in the special NIA court presided over by Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Padalkar. The case relates to seizure of arms and ammunition from different parts of the state in August this year.
"The accused were members of organisations such as the (Goa-headquartered) Sanathan Sanstha, (its affiliate) 'Hindu Janjagruti' and similar other smaller outfits," the ATS said.
"They had drawn their motivation of making efforts towards establishment of so-called Hindu Rashtra as explained in the Marathi book 'Kshatra Dharma Sadhana', published by Sanathan Sanstha," it said.
The accused had hatched a conspiracy to undermine security and sovereignty of the country, the investigating agency said. "The accused had also conspired to form a terrorist gang of youths with similar mindset to work towards undermining unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of the country," it said.
The gang had planned to use country-made pistols and bombs, and target the individuals who speak, write, perform against the so-called Hindu Dharma, its traditions and customs besides targeting similar kinds of programmes in order to terrorise the minds of the common people, the squad said. It was revealed during investigation that a western music programme, Sunburn, organised in Pune in December 2017 – was on the radar of the "terrorist gang", says the 6,800-page charge sheet which has statements of around 190 witnesses. "The terrorist gang had planned to use country-made bombs, petrol bombs, firearms and engage in heavy stonepelting in order to send a strong message to the followers of western music and culture, and terrorise the minds of all those who would attend the said programme," it said.
The gang had prepared itself to attack the programme, but dropped its plan at the last moment because one of the accused informed others that he had possibly been exposed to one of the CCTV cameras installed at the venue, the ATS said.
"It has also been revealed during investigation that the terrorist gang had recced with intention to harm physically rational individuals, speakers, litterateurs and others who target the Hindu religion and its traditions and customs," said the ATS document.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has been slapped against the accused after taking necessary approval from authorities concerned, it said. There is strong evidence against the accused for invoking the stringent anti-terror act against them, the ATStold the court. When contacted by PTI, Sanathan Sanstha national spokesman Chetan Rajhans denied any links with the accused. "We have nothing to do with the accused. They are not members of Sanathan Sanstha. They were never our members. It is very surprising that the ATS has taken our name (in the charge sheet)," he said.
The charge sheet has named 12 accused: Sharad Kalskar (25), Vaibhav Raut (44), Sudhanwa Gondhlekar (39), Shrikant Pangarkar (40), Avinash Pawar (30), Leeladhar Ukhirde (32), Vasudeo Suryawanshi (19), Suchit Kumar Rangswamy (37), Bharat Kurne (37), Amol Kale (34), Amit Baddi (27) and Ganesh Dasharath Miskin (28). The accused, arrested from Nallasopara in adjoining Palghar district, Pune, Aurangabad and elsewhere in the state,are currently in judicial custody.
Besides the UAPA, the accused have also been charged under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act, IPC, Arms Act and the Maharashtra Police Act. Three to four more accused are absconding, according to the ATS.
A huge quantity of explosives and firearms was seized during raids conducted by the ATS at Nallasopara, Pune and some other parts of the state. The first of the raids was conducted in Nallasopara onAugust 10 and led to the arrest of Raut who ran the 'Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti', a little-known cow protection outfit,in Nallasopara near Mumbai, police had said.
The seized haul included 23 live country-made bombs,15 pistols, 10 pistol barrels, six pistol magazines, three partially made pistol magazines and half a dozen pistol slides, they said. Besides weapons, hard drives, pen drives, memory cards, hard discs, eight number plates of vehicles, copies of Kshatra Dharma Sadhana, several pocket diaries and notebooks were seized during the raids, they added.