Charges framed in arms haul case

The Asian Age.  | Shahab Ansari

Metros, Mumbai

During the investigation, more people were arrested. Later, the NIA took over the investigation into the case.

The court charged the accused under sections 16, 18, 18-A, 18-B, 19, 20 and 23 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA); sections 4 and 5 of the Explosive Substances Act; and section 9-B of the Explosives Act. (Representional Image)

Mumbai: A special National Investigating Agency (NIA) court Wednesday framed charges against twelve suspected right-wing activists, including former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangakar, in the 2018 Nalasopara arms haul case.

In August 2018, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) carried out raids in Nalasopara and Pune, and arrested one Vaibhav Raut, who ran a cattle protection outfit named the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti, and four of his associates, for illegally storing explosives and arms. During the investigation, more people were arrested. Later, the NIA took over the investigation into the case.

NIA Judge D.E. Kothal-ikar framed charges against Sharad Kalaskar alias Vishnu alias Sarw-an; Vaibhav Raut alias Waman; Sudhanwa Gond-halekar alias Pandeji alias Pande; Shrikant Pa-ngakar alias Praji; Avin-ash Pawar alias Ajit Da-da; Liladhar Lodhi alias Vijay alias Lambu alias Bhiya; Vasudeo Surya-wansi alias Mechanic; Sujit Rangaswami alias Sujit S.R. alias Manjunath alias Pravin; Bharat Kurne alias Ankle; Amol Kale alias Bhaisaheb alias Sanjay Bhansare; Amit Baddi alias Govinda; and Ganesh Miskin alias Ganesh alias Mithun.

The court charged the accused under sections 16, 18, 18-A, 18-B, 19, 20 and 23 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA); sections 4 and 5 of the Explosive Substances Act; and section 9-B of the Explosives Act. The court also framed charges under section 3 read with section 25 of the Arms Act; section 37 (1) read with 135 of the Maharashtra Police Act; and sections 120-B, 212 and 201 of the IPC.

The ATS claimed that the accused were motivated by establishment of the so-called Hindu Rashtra explained in the book, “Kshatra Dharma Sadhana”, published by the Sanatan Sanstha. It also claimed that the accused allegedly formed a terrorist gang, and decided to target a western music programme called “Sunburn” which was to be organised in Pune in December 2017. Later however, he dropped the plan after one of the gang members informed the others that he had been exposed in one of the CCTV cameras installed around the venue.

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