ATS sees bigger conspiracy behind Padmaavat theatre attack

Mumbai: A Mumbai court on Tuesday sent four persons arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) to one-week police custody. During the hearing, the ATS informed the court that these four accused were part of a group that carried out bomb blasts outside cinema halls in Kalyan in Maharashtra and Belgaum in Karnataka during the screening of the movie Padmaavat.

The four accused — Sharad Kalaskar, Vaibhav Raut, Sudhanawa Gondhalekar and Shrikant Pangarkar — have been sent to ATS custody till September 3. Besides, a fifth accused, Avinash Pawar, who was arrested from Mumbai’s Ghatkopar on August 25, has already been sent to ATS custody till August 31.

ATS informed the court that the accused arrested by the agency from various places of Maharashtra are part of a larger conspiracy and the case is not just about recovery of some explosives and ammunition from their possession. ATS also informed the court that these accused were part of the conspiracy to carry out a bomb blast at a “Western Music Concert” in Pune which they could not execute for some reasons. Kalaskar and Raut are from Nalasopara, Gondhalekar is from Pune and Pangarkar hails from Jalna.

Though Sanathan Sansthan has denied any connection with any of the accused arrested by the ATS, now after Tuesday’s remand proceedings their relationship with Sanathan Sansthan is again being discussed since the organisation had threatened of dire consequences when the Western Music Concert was shifted from Goa to Pune during New Year celebrations two years back. Also, Sanatan Sanstha was against the screening of Deepika Padukone starrer Padmaavat.

After such startling revelations by the ATS, a demand for ban on Sanathan Sanstha is growing louder. The ATS has already recommended for banning the organisation way back in 2011 and has sent additional material against Sansthan to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2015. It has also sent a detailed information to the Central government within 24 hours of the registration of this present FIR against alleged role of Sansthan members.

“We have already sent a report about Sanatan Sanstha back in 2011 and now the MHA has to take a call. If they ask for any other material or report we will give them as and when asked for,” Deepak Kesarkar, Maharashtra Minister of State for Home, told ANI on an earlier occasion.

Top ATS sources have also confirmed to ANI that they have some additional inputs about activities of Sanatan Sansthan and they can provide it to the government if they are asked for. But for now, they have updated the MHA through State Home Department about the ongoing investigation against all arrested persons.