Bengaluru: Some indoctrinated and trained right-wing hardliners in Maharashtra, who are members of organisations that are reportedly linked to Goa-based ‘Sanatan Sanstha’, were reportedly working towards establishing a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ by 2023 with a 'saffron army' when the ATS blew the lid off their alleged conspiracy. An all-out attack by the hardliners would have meant a disaster for the BJP-led government in the state on the eve of Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and Lok Sabha elections next year.
"Sir, please alert the Maharashtra (Anti Terrorist Squad) before it is too late" – a ‘Most Urgent’ communiqué from the Special Investigation Team (SIT), Karnataka to Maharashtra ATS literally saved the day for the state and helped the police unearth the ‘covert’ operation. The “inputs” from the Karnataka SIT had come from the accused in the journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh murder case and the diary of Amol Kale (a key accused in the case).
The contents of the diary were shared at the “highest level” in Maharashtra and the immediate follow-up action by the ATS led to the arrest of three right-wing hardliners - Vaibhav Raut, a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, who is a member of the Shri Shivpratishthan Hindustan headed by Sambhaji Bhide, and Sharad Kasalkar from Nala Sopara and Satara and recovery of huge cache of firearms, explosives and incriminating literature.
During the raids the ATS reportedly recovered a deadly cache of contraband firearms - 11 country made pistols with magazines, one air gun, 10 pistol barrels, six pistol magazines, six incomplete pistols, three partially made magazines, seven partially made pistol slides, several half-made parts of illicit firearms from the accused.
“The ATS has unearthed an illicit manufacturing and assembling unit of arms and explosives, which was being assembled for a major attack in Maharashtra. The 7.65mm country-made pistol, which was used to kill Gauri Lankesh may be part of the cache of illegal firearms that was seized by the ATS,” said an official source on condition of anonymity. Recovery of the killer weapon will help the SIT in cracking the case.
The team has so far arrested 12 accused in the sensational murder case. Deccan Chronicle in 2008 had reported about the alleged plans of the extreme right-wing group in Karnataka to raise a pan India ‘army’ – ‘Bhayotpadana Nigraha Sena' - comprising of nationalist Hindu youth in the age group of 18 and 30 years, who would be trained by former army and police officers, to purge the country of Islamic jehadi outfits. Karnataka and Maharashrtra were designated fields of operation for the recruitment and training of hardliners.