The Bombay High Court has granted bail to Vaibhav Raut, who was jailed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for plotting to bomb the Sunburn music festival in Pune in 2017, PTI reported.

He is the co-founder of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti, a cow protection group. This group is said to be affiliated to the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an offshoot of Hindutva organisation Sanatan Sanstha.

Raut was arrested on August 9, 2018, after the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad seized a significant amount of ammunition, including country-made pistols and crude bombs, from his home in Mumbai’s Nalasopara locality.

According to the chargesheet filed under sections of the Explosive Substances Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Arms Act and Maharashtra Police Act, Raut and 11 others plotted to target the Sunburn festival in December 2017 to “send a strong message against Western music and culture”.

However, the plan was abandoned as they grew suspicious that one of them had been caught on surveillance cameras and their identity had been compromised.

In his plea for bail, Raut contended that three of his fellows had been granted relief already. He also claimed that the godown the crude bombs were recovered from was owned by someone else.

On September 20, a division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Gauri Godse granted bail to Raut, noting that he has been in jail for over five years and the trial in the case is not likely to conclude soon, reported PTI.

“It is pertinent to note that the minimum sentence that can be awarded under the provisions of the UAPA is 5 years and the same can extend up to life imprisonment,” the Bombay High Court said.

The court also took note of an earlier order granting bail to a co-accused on March 23. The order said that the Sanatan Sanstha is not a banned or terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The judges asked Raut not to leave Mumbai and Vasai-Virar or Palghar district without permission of a trial court, reported The Indian Express. Raut will also have to appear before the trial court on every date of hearing and not seek any adjournment, the judges added.

The case

The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad has alleged in its chargesheet that the accused persons influenced by a book titled Kshatra Dharma Sadhana, which is published by the Sanatan Sanstha and calls on Hindus to establish a Hindu rashtra or Hindu nation.

Some of the accused have also been named in the murder cases of journalist Gauri Lankesh and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.

Besides Raut, the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad had arrested Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar, Sachin Prakasrao Andure, Avinash Pawar, Vasudev Suryavanshi, Leeladhar Ukhirde, Suchit Rangswamy, Bharat Kurne, Amol Kale, Amit Baddi and Ganesh Dasharath Miskin.