At a time when investigation agencies are looking for clues about the July 10 blast in the parking lot of Faraskhana and Vishrambaug police stations, there have been cases – with suspected terror links – in the past in which a breakthrough has evaded the police till date.
Five and a half years back, on February 15, 2009, a low intensity blast took place inside a State Transport bus at Manchar in Ambegaon taluka of Pune district, around 55 km from here. Nobody was injured in the incident.
Police had confirmed the use of gelatin sticks and detonators in the blast. A complaint was also filed at the Manchar police station against an unknown person. Investigators believed that the blast was not an accidental incident and the possibility of it being a trail of some major conspiracy was not ruled out. The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) too conducted a parallel probe in the case. But later, the investigations came to a halt and now it seems that the case, which could have given leads about growing extremist movements in Pune, is nowhere on the agenda of investigators.
The blast took place in the ST bus at the MSRTC’s depot at Manchar around 7.30 pm on February 15, 2009. The bus was scheduled to go at Raanjani village in Ambegaon taluka. As per police records, there were some six passengers sitting on the seats in the front side. They ran out of the bus on hearing a sound of explosion, all of a sudden.
Though no passenger was injured, some part of the bus was damaged in the explosion. Bus conductor Kalidas Sonba Chikhale had then said he initially thought it was explosion of some firecracker. But later the MSRTC depot officials informed Manchar police as they found that a seat in the middle of the bus along with the surrounding metallic body was blown apart in the explosion.
A Manchar police team, then led by assistant inspector Dnyaneshwar Ganore, had found about 12 ft long wire coming out of the window near the seat that was blown apart. The bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) parts of a detonator and a plastic wrapper of gelatin stick.
A team of state ATS led by inspector Peter Lobo (who is now assistant commissioner with Pune city police) conducted inspection of the bus. Damaged parts of the bus were taken for forensic tests.
The gelatin stick used in the blast was manufactured at a Nagpur-based ammunition factory. Some local residents reportedly told cops that gelatin sticks and detonators are used in the region for construction of wells and other purposes. However, after initial investigation, cops suspected that blast was carried out after properly arranging the circuit consisting the detonator, gelatin stick, wires and other objects. However, the investigators never found the persons involved in the blast and the purpose behind it.
The blast had taken place at a time when Pune was in news following the arrests of operatives of Indian Mujahideen as well as Abhinav Bharat for alleged involvement in bomb blast cases. Apparently, during investigations, cops zeroed on some local relegious fundamental groups in the district. Then superintendent of Pune rural police Ravindra Kadam had said they were probing different angles and it could be a case of one of the groups carrying out the explosion for terrifying the rival group. But no arrests were made in this case.
A ‘MYSTERIOUS’ EXPLOSION
Around eight years ago, there was a panic reported after a suspicious blast took place in a house located on the fourth floor of the Deccan Towers building at Pulgate in Pune Camp area on March 9, 2006.
The incident was registered at the Cantonment police station. The reason behind the blast was not confirmed. There was a family residing in the house. The explosion took place in the early morning hours, around 4.30 am, at a time when the family members were fast asleep in the house. The window panes and door of the house were left shatters. Even cracks developed in the walls of the rooms. However, nobody from the family residing in the house were injured.
After interacting with ballistic experts, police had said that explosion may have taken place due to leakage of gas from domestic LPG cylinder in the house. A senior police officer had then told media persons that as the explosion was abnormal, it was discussed with Army experts from Khadki as well as with experts from Mumbai. “The experts told us that such explosion have taken place earlier due to leakage of LPG. We suspect that gas leaked from the cylinder may got accumulated and then it exploded suddenly due to spark emerging from the refrigerator,” the officer had said. Apparently, the family was close to a person having links with the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). So, top city police officials visited the spot. Some samples collected from the room were also sent for lab test. But the reason behind the explosion remained unexplained.
Investigators have got no clues yet about the posters allegedly released by banned naxal outfit Communist Party of India (Maoist) in Pune on March 23 (In 2012 and 2013) the day it remembers as ‘Shahid Din’ to mark the martyrdom of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. The ‘Maoist’ posters that were put up strategic locations like Patrakar Bhavan, bus stops, colleges, outside government offices and other spots.
The posters found in 2013 mentioned that the period between March 23 and March 29 should be marked as a “saptah” (week) in support of the movement demanding rights for “revolutionaries” lodged in jails, on the occasion of martyrdom of “Comrade Shahid Bhagat Singh.” The posters further mention six demands regarding the rights that should be given to their fellow ‘comrades’ lodged in jails. Posters found in 2012 called for a bandh and demanded unconditional release of Kobad Ghandy, Vijay, Vikram, Madanlal, Mahesh, Bhanu and Anjela Sontakke.
The state ATS has arrested Angela, alleged secretary of Golden Corridor committee of CPI- Maoists, along with her aides. Police said this committee of Maoists aimed at recruiting youths from urban areas of Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and Ahmedabad. Police registered complaints against unidentified persons in the cases, but got no clues about persons behind it. Police suspect that a sleeper cell of Maharashtra State Committee of CPI (Maoist) may be active in Pune.