The charges are part of a 6,000-word chargesheet filed against 12 Hindu extremists by the Maharastra ATS.
Mumbai: The 12 Sanatan Sanstha-inspired Hindutva activists arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) earlier this year, had planned to target the 2017 edition of the popular Sunburn Music festival but gave up on their plans at the last minute.
According to the Maharashtra ATS, the 12 men, members of radical organisations such as the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, wanted to launch an attack at the festival — held in Pune last December — to send a message against western music but backed out after fearing that they may have been exposed.
The charges are part of the 6,000-word chargesheet against the 12 accused that the agency filed before a special National Investigation Agency court in Mumbai Wednesday. The 12 have been charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Arms Act, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act and the Maharashtra Police Act.
The ATS said those arrested were working towards the establishment of a ‘Hindu Rashtra,’ as explained in the book Kshatra Dharma Sadhana, published by Sanatan Sanstha.
They had also allegedly conspired to form a terrorist gang to target individuals who speak, write and perform against ‘Hindu dharma’, traditions and customs.
The Sanatan Sanstha is a Goa-based radical Hindu outfit suspected to have links with those being probed for the murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi as well as journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh. The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti works with a stated aim of uniting Hindus and spreading education and awareness on dharma.
“They (the arrested persons) had conspired to form a terrorist gang of youth with a similar mindset, to work towards undermining unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of the country,” the ATS said.
“Towards this end, the gang had planned to use country-made pistols, country-made bombs, and target the individuals who would speak, write, perform against the so-called Hindu dharma, its traditions and customs besides targeting similar kinds of programmes in order to terrorise the minds of the common people.”
Also read: Gauri Lankesh murder: SIT chargesheet names Sanatan Sanstha as organisation behind crime
Failed plan to target western music festival
According to the ATS, the accused were prepared to target the Sunburn festival but called the plan off at the eleventh hour.
“The terrorist gang had planned to use country-made bombs, petrol bombs, firearms and 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,” an ATS official said.
The accused radical Hindu activists had allegedly done their recce but scrapped the plan after one of them informed the others that he had possibly been exposed in a surveillance camera at the venue.
Also read: From marriage to urination, here’s the Sanatan Sanstha complete guide to being a good Hindu
In August, the ATS arrested two people — Sharad Kalaskar and Vaibhav Raut — from Nalasopara and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar in Pune and allegedly seized a huge cache of explosives such as live country bombs, gelatine sticks, detonators, transistors, safety fuse wires, relay switches and so on.
Based on its investigation, the ATS arrested nine more accused, whereas efforts are on to trace three others who are wanted.
Kalaskar allegedly confessed to having directly participated in the killing of Dabholkar along with Sachin Andure, who the CBI later arrested.
During the investigation, the ATS recovered 23 country-made bombs, 15 pistols, one country-made weapon, one partially completed country-made weapon, pistol barrels, magazines and slides, 41 live rounds of ammunition, 26 detonators, tools and raw materials to make country bombs and firearms.
It also seized CDs, pen drives, hard disks, memory cards, eight vehicle number plates, copies of ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’ in Marathi and diaries from places such as Nalasopara, Solapur, Satara and Jalgaon.
Two cars, five motorcycles and parts of a dismantled motor-cycle were also recovered from Pune, Nalasopara, Satara, Kolhapur and Beed.
In the process of investigation, the ATS identified locations of training centres where the accused allegedly got training in explosives manufacturing. The details were all allegedly in codes, which the ATS deciphered during the investigation.
As per the ATS, the accused activists also stopped using their personal mobile phones during the execution of a conspiracy and were instead using separate handsets with SIM cards registered in different names.
An intelligence system geared to countering terrorism sponsored by foreign agencies should have picked up tremors from a home grown and relatively crude organisation like the Sanatan Sanstha much earlier.
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