The ATS is the third agency after the CBI and the Karnataka SIT to name the Sanatan Sanstha in a chargesheet. While the CBI has named the Sanstha in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case, Karnataka SIT has named the organisation in its chargesheet in the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

THE MAHARASHTRA Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Wednesday filed a 6,842-page chargesheet in the Nallasopara alleged arms haul and terror plot case against 12 persons alleged to be members of organisations including the Sanatan Sanstha, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and others.

The ATS said the accused had formed a ‘terrorist gang’ after being motivated by the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra as expounded in the book called Kshatra Dharma Sadhana, published by the Sanatan Sanstha.

The ATS is the third agency after the CBI and the Karnataka SIT to name the Sanatan Sanstha in a chargesheet. While the CBI has named the Sanstha in the Narendra Dabholkar murder case, Karnataka SIT has named the organisation in its chargesheet in the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh. The chargesheet filed before a special court in Mumbai includes statements of nearly 200 witnesses, including some recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code for higher evidentiary value.

A statement issued by the ATS said, “During investigation it was revealed that the members of the terrorist gang are also members of organisations such as Sanatan Sanstha, Hindu Janjagruti and similar other smaller organisations. They had drawn their motivation of making efforts towards establishment of so called Hindu Rashtra as explained in the book ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’, published by the Sanatan Sanstha. They had conspired to form a terrorist gang of youth with similar mindset, which works towards undermining unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of the country.”

The note added that during investigation it was revealed that the alleged terrorists were to target the Sunburn music festival in Pune in December 2017, but dropped this plan because one of the accused allegedly found himself to have been exposed to a CCTV camera at the venue.

“The accused had planned to use country-made bombs, petrol bombs, fire arms and to indulge in heavy stone pelting in order to send a strong message to the followers of Western music and Western culture and terrorise the minds of all those who would attend the said programme,” the ATS said. “Besides it has also been revealed during investigation that the terrorist gang had recceed (with intention to harm them physically) rational individuals, speakers, litteratteurs, etc who target the Hindu religion and its traditions and customs.” Apart from the 12 arrested accused, three men have been named as wanted including two from West Bengal who are alleged to have given training to the arrested accused in the use of firearms.

The first arrest in the case was conducted on August 10 this year when Nallasopara resident Vaibhav Raut, a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti was picked up. The ATS claimed to have seized a large consignment of arms and ammunition including ‘gun-making material’ from him. The agency said it was acting on information received on August 7 about a group in Mumbai and Pune likely to undertake ‘terrorist activity’.

The ATS then arrested arrested Sharad Kalaskar and Sudanva Gondhalekar the same day, followed by nine more arrests in the case until October. The total seizure of weapons included 23 live country-made bombs, 15 pistols, one country-made weapon, a partially made country-made weapon, among others.

The other accused include former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar form Aurangabad and Jalna, Avinash Pawar, Leeladhar Ukhirde, Vasudeo Suryawanshi, Suchit Rangswamy, Bharat Kurne, Amol Kale, Amit Baddi and Ganesh Miskin. While Kalaskar has also been named as an accused in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune, Kale, Baddi and Miskin have been named as accused in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru.

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