MUMBAI: While Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Saturday questioned 16 people for links with the persons arrested in connection with the explosives haul at Nalasopara, they also made it clear that the arrested person's connection with Dabholkar, Pansare and Lankesh murder cases too would be probed.
"We shall probe if the arrested men had any connection with the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare and journalist Gauri Lankesh," ATS chief Atulchandra Kulkarni has said.
Another senior officer from the ATS confirmed that at least 16 persons from Nallasopara, Pune, Satara, Solapur and elsewhere in the state were questioned for suspected links to the three men arrested yesterday in connection with explosives haul at Nalasopara and for conspiring to carry out terror activities in the state.
However, the names of those who have been questioned today have been withheld by the police. The ATS also raided flat number B-203 in Ellora building of Nalasopara on Saturday. The official said that a computer and some documents were seized during the raid. The ATS suspects that the duo arrested from Nalasopara was living in the flat raided today.
The flat belongs to one Vijay Joshi who is said to be a close friend of Vaibhav Raut, who was arrested yesterday. According to the housing society officials, Joshi had told them in the month of July that he had allowed relatives of one of his friends to use his flat for some time as their house was damaged in rains.
The ATS is probing for the social media presence and behaviour of the arrested men to hunt for any groups of like-minded people. Their mobile phones would be sent for forensic analysis, the official has said. He, however, declined to comment whether more arrests were done or are likely to happen in the case.
On Friday, the ATS had arrested Vaibhav Raut (40) and Sharad Kalaskar (25) from Nallasopara near Mumbai and Sudhanva Gondhalekar (39) from Pune. Following raids at Raut's residence and shop, the ATS claimed to have seized a huge quantity of explosives, including 20 crude bombs, two gelatin sticks, four electronic and 22 non-electronic detonators, 150 gm of explosive powder, two bottles labelled 'poison', batteries, soldering equipment and bomb circuit drawings.
Raut's purported social media account mentioned he was associated with the right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha, but the group yesterday denied he was its member. A court in Mumbai had remanded the three men in ATS custody till August 18.
While interrogating Gondhalekar on Saturday, the ATS came across information on few more arms he had hidden. Police raided the places mentioned by him and seized 10 country made pistols with magazines, 1 country-made gun, 1 air gun, 10 pistol barrels, 6 pistol bodies, 6 pistol magazines, 3 half made magazines, 7 half made pistol slides, 16 relay switches, 6 number plates for vehicles, 1 trigger mechanism, 1 chopper and 1 steel knife.
Apart from these arms seized today, electronic gadgets, books, a handbook on explosives, relay switch circuit drawings, several spare parts of arms, torches, battery, hand gloves, pen drives, hard disks and memory cards too have been seized, the officer said.