NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Modi’s BJP-backed Hindu fundamentalists had planned to carry out series of bomb attacks in several cities of India with an aim to put the blame on Indian Muslims ahead of Eid ul Azha (Islamic festival of sacrifice). Indian media reports reported that had the Hindu militants succeeded in their plans, it could have sparked off massive anti-Muslim riots in India.
The action was taken following a tip by a Western intelligence agency to New Delhi but Indian officials continued to play down the role of Hindu militants calling them as criminals and mafia gang members.
According to Indian press reports the three persons arrested by the Maharashtra ATS – Vaibhav Raut (40), Sharad Kalaskar (25), both from Nalla Sopara near Palghar and Sudhanav Gondhalekar (39) from Pune for possession of a huge cache of arms and explosives, had allegedly planned to blow up or create blasts at six theaters and at least 4-5 Ganapati mandaps in different parts of Maharashtra including Mumbai, Pune, Sangli and Solapur during the upcoming Eid and Ganapati festivals in Maharashtra and pin the blame on Muslim anti-social elements.
The locations targeted were close to Muslim localities, as a result of which the finger of suspicion would automatically point to anti social elements from the minority community.
Three anti-Hindu voices were also on the hit list and the Hindutva terrorists who had planned to use the crowds and chaos as a screen during the coming Ganpati festival to carry out their sinister plan to eliminate the liberal and nationalist voices in the State. Goa-based writer Damodar Mauzo was among those targeted, Indian police sources confirmed.
The recruitment tactics of the covert Hindutva group in Karnataka whose members have been arrested for the Gauri Lankesh murder — and a plot to murder the Kannada writer and critic K S Bhagwan — is outlined in statements given to police by Sujeet Kumar, the former HJS activist who acted as the main recruiter for the group along with Kale, who was the operations chief.
Hindu militants are also believed to be behind the killings of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in September 2017 and another liberal writer MM Kalburgi in 2015. The arrested persons were definitely planning bomb blasts in Maharashtra and other parts of the country to spark off riots between communities, a plan which was foiled by the cops in the nick of time, the ATS said officially on record.
The arrested hardliners Vaibhav Raut and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar wanted to procure about 150 pistols, 100 bombs and over 3000 bullets of different caliber for use in the coming 6-8 months and were planning to recruit a ‘small army of like-minded persons’ to carry out various terrorist activities.
They were trying to arrange funds to a tune of Rs 15 lakh to purchase this hardware for their heinous acts.
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 with Hindu militants.
Vaibhav Raut a violent gau rakshak (Protector of Cows) 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.
Gondhalekar is connected with the Shri Shiv Pratisthan, spearheaded by the controversial 85-year-old Sambhaji Bhide alias Bhide Guruji, which has the patronage of the PM Narendra Modi.
Modi has openly admired Bhide and called him his guru or mentor. The Shiv Pratisthan confirmed Gondhalekar was earlier associated with them but said he is now no longer part of the outfit.
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.
Nearly 20 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.
According to media reports on Thursday, 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, gunpowder and detonators and timers from a nearby shop, which served as the office of the arrested accused Vaibhav Raut.
The Hindustan Times reports that the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police arrested a suspected member of a right-wing Hindu organization at Nallasopara in Palghar district near Mumbai and seized eight crude bombs and explosives from his house late Thursday.
Earlier on Wednesday Maharashtra police seized four air pistols from the house of Vaibhav Raut, who was arrested with two others last week for an alleged conspiracy to carry out blasts in the state, reports PTI. The ATS had then said it seized a huge quantity of explosives and firearms during raids in Nallasopara, Pune and elsewhere in the state.