The Maharashtra ATS told the court on Monday that it suspected that former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar had funded the procurement of the arms and ammunition found at the instance of the three men arrested earlier this month. Pangarkar, arrested on Sunday, was produced before the special court with the ATS seeking his custody for 15 days. The ATS has claimed to have recovered arms and ammunition, including pistols, airguns and crude bombs, allegedly to be used to carry out attacks in Mumbai, Solapur, Satara, Pune and Nalasopara.
“The accused (Pangarkar) is suspected to be the man who has given major funding for the explosives, arms and ammunition seized so far. We suspect that he is just a puppet and the main mastermind needs to be found,” Special Public Prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves told the court. He added that it is suspected that the accused had done recce at various places in Maharashtra and the ATS wants to probe who were on their target list. The ATS had earlier claimed that multiple vehicle numberplates were recovered from the accused.
The ATS said that it is questioning of the three men arrested earlier — Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar and Sudanva Gondhalekar — had led them to Pangarkar. While seeking his custody, the prosecution claimed that the money trail leading to the other accused has to be investigated through Pangarkar’s bank accounts and other documentary evidence.
The prosecution added that searches in the two residences of Pangarkar in Aurangabad and Jalna had led them to pen drives, hard disks, literature and other documents. Special Judge V S Padalkar asked if the literature seized from Pangarkar’s house was banned by the state. When he pointed out that the books listed are readily available, the investigating officer admitted that the books are not banned.
The prosecution submitted that police custody, however, was required to confront Pangarkar with other documents and with each other. It also submitted that the charges under which the accused has been booked are serious.
Defence advocate Sanjeev Punalekar opposed the remand stating that the prosecution had only booked Pangarkar on suspicion and that no case was made out against him to grant 15-day custody to the police. He added that even if the ATS claims that it wants to probe his bank account, it can be done without requiring Pangarkar to be in custody. The court, however, said that the grounds cited by the prosecution were “genuine and reasonable” and granted his custody to the police till August 28.