MUMBAI: Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Monday seized more materials, including weapons, in connection with the recent explosives haul while busting a purported pistol manufacturing factory at Nalasopara in Palghar district, around 60 km from Mumbai, A team from the Karnataka SIT probing the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh has arrived in Mumbai as Vaibhav Raut, the principal accused in the Nalasopara arms haul, has been found to have had contact with some of the accused in the Lankesh murder case.
From Nalasopara, police have seized five country-made pistols, three partially ready country-made pistols, 11 rounds of 9 mm, bullets, 30 rounds of 7.65 mm bullets, springs, triggers and several other kinds of materials including pistol spares.“It appeared like a ‘karkhana’ (factory),” officials said. Apart from this, a laptop, hard disk, pen drives, a cell phone, several SIM cards, wi-fi dongles, a motorcycle, a car and several documents have been seized during raids in Pune, the officials said.
The ATS arrested Vaibhav Raut (40), Sharad Kalaskar (25) and Sudhanav Ghondalekar (39) last week. They have been booked under provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.Last week, when Raut was arrested, the ATS seized eight crude bombs and explosive material sufficient for making another 15 .
The ATS officials said that from Raut alone, the investigators had seized 12 indigenous explosives, two gelatin sticks, four electronic detonators, 22 non-electronic detonators, safety fuse wires, 1,500 grams of white powder, two bottles marked as “poison”, ten batteries of six volts and a battery connector.
Police suspect that the men were working to make homemade bombs to spread panic at public gatherings.
The ATS is also probing their role in the murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Communist leader Govind Pansare, writer MM Kalburgi and journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh. Meanwhile, on Sunday evening hundreds of people gathered outside Raut’s home in Nalasopara to plan a campaign to demand his release. They alleged that the ATS had searched Raut’s home without a search warrant.