The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the murder of Leftist thinker Govind Pansare, approached the special court in Mumbai on Monday to seek access to the weapons seized by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from the accused arrested in August for an alleged terror plot. The SIT sought access to the weapons to see if they matched with the bullet and empty shells seized in the Pansare murder.
The ATS had claimed to have seized a “huge consignment” of arms and ammunition from those arrested — Vaibhav Raut and Sudhanva Gondhalekar, who belonged to the Hindutva groups. The weapons included countrymade pistols, air guns and cartridges. The court sought the say of the ATS, which said the access of the weapons could be given to the SIT and after their probe, the weapons should be returned to the ATS. The court has also given the SIT a go-ahead, officials said.
In August, the ATS arrested accused, including Raut, Gondhalekar and Sharad Kalaskar, claiming that the three, along with others, were involved in an alleged terror plot to target persons and places perceived by them to be against “Hindu culture and traditions”.
The ATS also claimed that arms and ammunition, including crude bombs, non-electronic detonators and other equipment, had been seized.
The ATS went on to arrest 11 men in all in this case claiming that they had also planned to attack a music festival in Pune and the screening of Hindi film, Padmaavat. While the ATS is yet to file a chargesheet in the case, the seized weapons were sent to the forensic science laboratory for examination by the ballistics division. Some of the accused arrested by the ATS had also been named in the alleged murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune and journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru.
An official of the SIT confirmed that access to weapons was sought as they had not yet traced the weapon used to murder Pansare on February 16, 2015, while he was out on a morning walk in Kolhapur.
For the alleged murder, the SIT had arrested Hindu Janjagruti Samiti’s Virendra Tawde and Sanathan Sanstha member, Samir Gaikwad, while two others were named as wanted accused. Investigators involved in the murder probe of Dabholkar, Lankesh, Pansare and Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi, claimed that there were similarities in them, including the fact that while there were allegedly different shooters, only two 7.65 mm countrymade pistols could have been used to kill the four.