Aurangabad/Mumbai: Former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Sunday in connection with the seizure of crude bombs and weapons from different parts of the state between August 9 and 11, an ATS official said. Pangarkar was arrested under the Explosives Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, he added.
Pangarkar, a former member of the Jalna Municipal Corporation, was detained by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last night in connection with the killing of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar. CBI sources had said Pangarkar’s name had cropped up during the interrogation of Sachin Prakasrao Andure, the alleged main shooter in the Dabholkar murder case.
Andure, who was arrested by the CBI from Pune last evening, was produced before the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class A.S. Mujumdar at Shivajinagar today and remanded to the agency’s custody till August 26. The CBI told the court that Andure was one of the two assailants who had shot at Dabholkar at the Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune on August 20, 2013.
Pangarkar, aged around 40, was detained after Andure told the CBI that he was with him when Dabholkar was killed, the sources said. The former corporator was allegedly riding pillion on the motorcycle driven by Andure, they added.
Citing sources, a report in the Indian Express said that Andure has stated to have been aided by Pangarkar in assembling and storing explosives. The Shiv Sena party leadership has reportedly distanced itself from the former corporate and said that he is no longer associated with the party.
However, Arjun Khotkar, a Shiv Sena politician and minister of state for textile, animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries admitted that several party leaders were in touch with Pangarkar and that he had indeed spoken about his links with the Sanatan Sanstha and even about “explosion” plans. The Indian Express report said that Arjun Khotkar too admitted to meeting him “twice or thrice in the past few years”, hinting that Pangarkar had links with the controversial radical Hindu outfit, Sanatan Sansth. And that he had even dropped hints of carrying out some blasts.
“During our conservations, when I asked him what he was doing, he said he was working for the Sanatan Sanstha in Assam, Goa and a few other states and was addressing big gatherings and holding workshops,” the report quoted Khotkar as saying. “Around 10 days ago, he had met Bhaskar Ambekar, the Mumbai chief of the Sena. Later, Ambekar told me about the conversation, in which Pangakar said to watch out for something in the future and talked about explosions. But Pangarkar didn’t say anything specifically about where and how. Also, we don’t know whether he was speaking the truth. Police may be able to ascertain that.”
Shrikanth Pangarkar was reportedly not given a Sena ticket in 2011, folllowing which he rebelled against the party.
Three persons – Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar – were arrested from Palghar and Pune districts on August 10 in connection with the seizure of bombs and weapons. All three are in ATS custody till August 28.
Dabholkar (67) was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne assailants on August 20, 2013, when he was on a morning walk near his home in Pune. Andure was arrested on a tip-off from the Maharashtra ATS, which had arrested Raut, Kalaskar and Gondhalekar for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to carry out blasts in the state. One of the arrested accused gave the input about Andure’s involvement in Dabholkar’s murder, which the ATS shared with the CBI. Dabholkar’s murder case was transferred to the CBI from the Pune Police in 2014.
(With PTI inputs)