Maharashtra ATS officers arrested Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, Sharad Kalaskar, as well as Vaibhav Raut on August 9. Cops claimed that they recovered twenty crud bombs along with gelatin sticks, gunpowder, detonators, and other materials sufficient enough to make at least twelve more weapons. The explosives and equipment were seized from Raut’s house and shop located in Nalasopara area which is around 60 kilometers away from Mumbai in Palghar district. Vaibhav is a well-known animal rights activist and works with Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti. He was also associated with the Sanatan Sanstha in the past.
Dhananjay Kulkarni, DCP (ATS) interacted with journalists and said the seized material is not RDX, and these three have not been linked with Gauri Lankesh or Dabholkar murder case.
Loopholes in the ATS’s theory regarding the arrests and seizure of materials
Senior advocate and Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad chief Sanjiv Punalekar recently shared his opinion on the case. He has also sent a request letter to the state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis seeking an appointment to discuss certain important aspects from this matter.
"I tag this case as Malegaon 2. The ATS men have nabbed Avdhoot Paithankar and Prasad Deshpande from the Natepute village, near Pandharpur before few days. They are detained and tortured because cops want them to give a statement against the three arrested persons and claim they supplied explosives to them. ATS has also detained Sudhanwa Gondhalekar's employees and are forcing them to tell the court that Sudhanwa was involved in illegal activities. Proper procedures were not followed during Raut's arrest even the panchanama was not made as per procedures. A search warrant was not obtained from the district magistrate before entering Raut's residence. He or his family members were not shown the items that were allegedly seized from their property by the police. The evidence was planted," said Punalekar.
Another person who knows the police procedures said if the ATS indeed received a tip about the possibility of a significant amount of unknown type of explosives and bombs being kept at Raut’s house and shop, why did they fail to call the bomb squad at the spot first?
“Are dangerous explosives and bombs carried in plastic bags and bed sheets by policemen in a civil dress without wearing any protective gear? If such huge amount of ‘unknown’ explosives were to be recovered, not just the house, but the entire lane nearby the house needed to be cordoned off before touching the explosives. At least the footage released by the police in the media does not show the same. I interacted with the family members and neighbors of the animal rights activists; they claimed the anti-terror squad officials first entered the house forcefully, and bomb experts, as well as a dog squad, was called only after two hours from starting the raid,” said the activist who interacted with this journalist on condition of anonymity. Even Vaibhav Raut’s wife has said the same during her interaction with journalists while claiming that police themselves planted the material that they claim they have seized.
Anti-Terror Squad officials behaved unprofessionally with journalists and the defense lawyer
Mumbai-based Advocate Dharam Raj is representing the three accused in the case. He interacted with us and shared some interesting insights.
"The Mumbai crime reporters decided to boycott the ATS's press briefing and protested because of the police's unprofessional behavior. Cops asked all the journalists to not to bring their cameras and phones inside the press conference room because they know that they are cooking a fake story and might get trapped if they detract from their statement later. So, they did not want any audio or video recording of their statement issued to journalists," said Dharam Raj.
"They not only showed their arrogance in front of journalists but also behaved similarly while in the court. On August 10, according to the court's order, I went to get the signatures of my clients on Vakalatnamas. While doing so, the cop from the anti-terror squad started holding the accused person's hand and arrogantly said he would allow them to sign only one Vakalatnama even if I have the court's permission. I had to approach the court once again and inform them about this undue objection from the ATS. On this, the Additional Public Prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves replied that I was trying to get the accused persons' signatures on a blank paper. The APP had to apologize for the police's unruly behavior when I showed the Vakalatnamas with my name to the court," said the advocate while narrating what happened inside the court.
While sharing his opinion about Vaibhav Raut, Dharam Raj pointed out that he is a law-abiding Gau Rakshak and has filed more than 35 cases against beef mafias. In fact, sometimes, police ask him to remain out of the region before and after few days from Bakri Eid as the Muslim Community does not appreciate his action against animal slaughterers who operate illegally. He was on the beef mafia’s radar since the last few years.
Journalists from various channels interacted with neighbors to know their opinion about the arrested person. Almost everyone pointed out that Raut is a straightforward and helpful individual. But the Qureshi community and police were often unhappy due to his efforts to rescue calves and cows.
Demand for a CBI probe in the case
The state home department’s reputation is already maligned due to rampant corruption involving even IG, DIG level officials.
Indulging in minority appeasement or asking police officers to force businessmen to purchase expensive tickets for the event featuring Amruta Fadnavis is undoubtedly not what they are expected to do.
The department landed in a tight spot when it had given a clean chit to Zakir Naik, just two days before the Kerala police’s move to arrest two of Naik’s employees for recruiting people to join the Islamic State. One might wonder why the government’s selected team gave a clean chit to the Islamic Preacher who has been banned from entering various countries. The answer might lie within the statement made by Chhota Rajan in November 2015. Even BJP leader (former bureaucrat) RK Singh had revealed the connection between D-Company, and Maharashtra Police back in August 2015. But perhaps, the people in charge in the state are not competent enough to understand the message. Anyway, later, the NIA took over the investigation and made a strong case against Naik and his organization, IRF.
As of now, the state has not taken any action against the IPS officers who planted RDX at Col. Purohit’s house during the Malegaon blast case investigation, even though the NIA has explicitly stated so. Some of the named officials were promoted last month. With such notorious reputation, it is hard to believe the Maharashtra home department’s ‘Hindu Terror Theory.’
Minister of state for home affairs (Rural), Deepak Kesarkar appeared clueless and said he would pass on the information to the media when they get it from the investigators. Now, activists are planning to agitate against Raut’s arrest on August 16 to demand a CBI probe in this case. They also claim they have evidence to tear apart the ATS’s theory which they intend to present to the court during the next few days. If required, they plan to approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi for fair investigation and justice. It’s time for the Modi Government to seriously look into the law and order affairs that are boiling up in Maharashtra.
Image Credits: ANI News