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Bombmaker who trained right-wing extremists arrested in Bengal by Maharashtra ATS


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MUMBAI: A man who trained members of right-wing outfits in bomb-making was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in West Bengal in connection with the 2018 Nalasopara arms haul case.

Pratap Judishtar aka Pratap Hajra (34) was arrested from Ushti in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on Monday. He had been on the run since the case was registered on August 10, 2018.

He was brought to the city and produced before the court which sent him to ATS custody till January 30, officials said here on Friday.

In August 2018, after the arms haul, the ATS had arrested Vaibhav Raut from Nalasopara, Sudhanva Gondhalekar from Pune and Sharad Kalaskar from Aurangabad.

In raids across several places in the state, as many as 12 persons were arrested who were linked to right-wing outfits such as Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagriti Sanstha. Hajra was the mastermind who trained the 12 on how to prepare country-made bombs, officials said.

Crude bombs, explosive materials, country-made pistols and weapons such as choppers were recovered from Raut’s residence and warehouse at Nalasopara near Mumbai. During the investigation, it was revealed that the group had planned to sabotage several places across the state and was also planning the murder of a few intellectuals. They had also planned a bomb blast at Pune Sunburn Festival in 2017.

The police have been trying to trace Hajra ever since the arrested suspects revealed that he was part of the conspiracy.

Hajra had almost vanished after the raids at Nalasopara. However, police kept a tab on his places in West Bengal and nabbed him on Monday with the help of West Bengal police SIT, ATS officials have said.

Of the arrested, Sharad Kalaskar was one of the shooters who killed Narendra Dabholkar in Pune in 2013.

The two accused identified as Ganesh Mishkin and Amit Baddi were booked for the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi.

The ATS had filed a charge sheet in the case against 12 accused under the Explosive Substances Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Arms Act and the Maharashtra Police Act.

The charge sheet said the group had conspired to form a terrorist cell which worked against those undermining the Hindu religion and culture. They had planned to target individuals who would speak, write, and perform against the Hindu dharma.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)