THE MAHARASHTRA Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has claimed that the men associated with Hindutva groups and arrested on terror charges were using a “lost” SIM card as a secret number to ensure that their locations could not be traced. The ATS told the court on Tuesday that they have recorded the statement of a witness, a Vikhroli-based person, in whose name the SIM was registered. She reportedly told the ATS that she had lost the SIM.
While seeking further custody of one of the accused — 30-year-old Avinash Pawar — Chief Public prosecutor Jaisingh Desai submitted that the SIM was found in the possession of co-accused Vaibhav Raut, arrested from Nallasopara. Desai said it was used by other accused, including Sudanva Gondhalekar and Pawar. “The accused were conspiring to use crude bombs in places and firearms to kill people who they felt were against Hindu culture and traditions. The accused also conducted reconnaissance of these places. To evade their mobile phones being traced to those locations, the accused kept their mobile phones switched off and used other secret numbers,” the ATS remand application said.
On Tuesday, Desai said that the SIM was used in December 2017 and January 2018, when the accused were conspiring to hurl crude bombs at the Sunburn music festival in Pune and during the release of Hindi film Padmaavat. The ATS further said that the location of the mobile tower was seen at Ghatkopar, Belgaum and Pune. The ATS claimed that they had seized five mobile phones from Pawar’s Ghatkopar residence and three of them did not have SIM cards. “He is not disclosing whether they had used other SIM cards in these phones,” Desai said, seeking for further custody of Pawar.
The ATS remand plea further said that a panchnama was drawn of places where Pawar had allegedly trained in the use of firearms and making of crude bombs. From the locker in his office at Mazgaon, the police also seized a pocket diary and a letterhead. The ATS claimed that they had also decoded a diary found with the accused and mirror images of his phone were also found and that he was being confronted with it. Sanjeev Punalekar, representing the accused, said that the investigators were giving “fishy” grounds for further custody and that there was no new grounds submitted for further probe of Pawar.
Special Judge V S Padalkar said that a “nexus” between Pawar and Raut is shown by prosecution and that there were valid grounds given by prosecution for further custody to interrogate him. The court granted the ATS Pawar’s custody till September 6.