Explosives seizure case: police custody of 3 accused extended

A court here extended till August 28 the police custody of three suspected members of a right-wing group who were arrested last week for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to carry out blasts in Maharashtra.

As per prima facie evidence produced before the court, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is applicable, hence the probe can not be curtailed, special UAPA Judge Vinod Padalkar said while granting further remand today.

Vaibhav Raut (40), who runs a cow protection outfit, was arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of police on August 10 from Nallasopara near Mumbai. It was followed by arrests of Sharad Kalaskar (25) from Palghar district and Sudhanva Gondhalekar (39) from Pune.

Producing them before the court after their police (ATS) remand today ended, the squad said it had recovered arms and explosive materials from the house of Prasad Deshpande at Natepute village in Malshiras tehsil of Solapur district, alongwith some letters.

Besides, the ATS has seized explosives and arms and ammunition, some documents, letters and chits from Nallasopara and Pune on the basis of the information given by the accused, it said.

These letters, chits, documents, mobile phone messages, data from a laptop, hard disks contain code words and code language which the ATS wanted to decipher, it said.

The accused had also erased some data from the seized mobile phones, laptop and hard disks, and the ATS wanted to retrieve it, it said.

The ATS had recovered CCTV footage of Parvati area of Pune where Gondhalekar's graphics design shop is located and this CCTV footage was being scrutinised, it said.

Defence lawyers argued that there was no need for further police (ATS) custody as examination of seized evidence was the job of forensic experts.

However, the prosecution maintained that the probe will come to a halt without further custodial interrogation.

While the ATS wanted a 15-day extension, the court extended the police remand of the accused till August 28.

The judge noted that objectives of the accused were a matter of investigation, and the ATS should get the opportunity to go to the bottom of the case.

Following an application moved by defence lawyers, the court allowed them to meet their clients in police custody between 5.30 pm to 6.00 pm.

Speaking to reporters later, defence lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar claimed it was a fabricated case.

After the arrests, the ATS had claimed to have seized a huge cache of explosive materials and country-made firearms during raids at various places in the state.

Alleging that the trio were planning to carry out blasts in the state ahead of Independence day and Bakri-Eid festival, the ATS had said it would also probe if they had any connection with the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare and journalist Gauri Lankesh.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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