Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sevaks planted bomb outside mosque last Diwali

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The sevaks of Hindu revivalist group Sanatan Sanstha, who were arrested for allegedly being involved in some recent blasts , told the police that they had planted a bomb outside a mosque/dargah on the Pen highway last Diwali. They apparently wanted to check the intensity of the bomb, but it did not explode.

The confession came on Tuesday after the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested two more sevaks, Santosh Angre (26) and Vikram Bhave (26), who reportedly planted the bombs at the Bhave auditorium in Vashi and Thane’s Gadkari Rangayatan. Seven persons were injured in the Thane blast on June 4.

The police made a breakthrough by arresting Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari (50) and Mangesh Nikam (34). The four accused have been sent to police custody till June 24. While Gadkari stayed at Sanatan Ashram in Devat near Panvel, Nikam belongs to Satara.

According to the accused, they had manufactured at least five bombs. While three of them were planted in Panvel, Vashi and Thane, one was planted in a dustbin at Pen but it did not go off. “Gadkari and Bhave said they had planted a bomb outside a mosque or dargah on the Pen highway. Our teams are verifying the claim,’’ said investigating officer B B Rathor.

With this revelation, the ATS is now going through the records of those arrested for the Jalana, Porna and Parbhani mosque blasts to find if there is any connection between the two groups.

While an officer said the bombs were made at Bhave’s house, an ATS team had been camping at Sanatan Ashram, trying to get evidence.

Angre, who stayed at Sanatan’s Ashram, was picked up from there and Bhave, a resident of Pen near Ratnagiri, was arrested from Wadala where he was hiding at his in-law’s house.

“The accused had bought around eight timers, which were to be used in the bombs. While five timers were used, the other three were thrown away near a nullah in Panvel,’’ said the officer.

Angre, a school dropout, was in the business of preparing and selling ayurvedic medicines. He left home and stayed at the ashram. Two motorcycles used by the accused and Ashram’s logbook have been seized.

According to police, the accused did not regret their act. “We are proud of what we did to deter those who were trying to show our gods and goddesses in poor light,’’ the accused told the invesigators.

On Tuesday, Gadkari, an engineering diploma-holder, told the court, “The police are putting pressure on my family and not considering my statement. They want a statement according to their will.’’ However, he did not complain about any physical torture.

“This is an allegation,’’ said ATS chief Hemant Karkare.

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