The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested a former Shiv Sena corporator on Sunday as it continued its investigation into the seizure of explosives in parts of the state earlier this month, PTI reported. The man, Shrikant Pangarkar, was a member of the Jalna Municipal Corporation from 2001 to 2011. A sessions court sent him to the custody of the Anti-Terrorism Squad till August 28, ANI reported.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had detained Pangarkar on Saturday in connection with the murder of rationalist and author Narendra Dabholkar in 2013. The Shiv Sena has said he is not with the party any more.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad’s investigation is related to the arrests of Hindutva activist Vaibhav Raut and two suspected accomplices on August 9 after police found a large stash of crude bombs and weapons at his office and home. They were allegedly making bombs to spread panic at public gatherings, and are in the custody of the Anti-Terrorism Squad till August 28.
The suspects told the Anti-Terrorism Squad that Pangarkar had helped them assemble the explosives and store them, reported The Indian Express. They also claimed that a man called Sachin Prakasrao Andure was involved in Dabholkar’s murder. Andure was arrested on Saturday by the Central Bureau of Investigation. He also mentioned Pangarkar’s name during interrogation, and said he was with him at the time of the murder. Andure was the alleged main shooter in the murder. He has been sent to the CBI’s custody till August 26.
Pangarkar was arrested under the Explosives Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, unidentified officials told PTI. The Anti-Terrorism Squad has refused to say whether Andure has any links with the three accused of the terror plot, according to Mumbai Mirror.
The Shiv Sena has said it does not have any links with Pangarkar now. However, senior party leader and a minister, Arjun Khotkar, told The Indian Express that several leaders in the party were in touch with him, and that he had talked about his plans to carry out blasts.
Vaibhav Raut is a co-founder of cow protection group Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti. This group is said to be affiliated with the right-wing Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an offshoot of the Sanatan Sanstha.