Amol Arvind Kale alias Bhaisab, one of the four people arrested for the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, was the convenor of the Pimpri-Chinchwad unit of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) in 2009-10, according to details obtained from the organisation’s website.
The website also details activities of the outfit in which Kale took part, including “Hindu Dharmajagruti Sabha” in different parts of Pune district, organising an exhibition on terrorism on “Kashmiri Hindu Balidan Divas”, and taking out rallies on Gudhi Padwa festival. Kale was arrested last week from Pimpri Chinchwad town in Pune along with Amit Degwekar, a resident of Goa and hailing from Kalne village in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district, Sujeet Kumar (37), and Manohar Edave (28) of Karnataka, all allegedly having links with Sanatan Sanstha and its associate HJS.
Police sources said Kale was involved in a business related to the share market. According to police, Kale is suspected to be a key figure in a covert activities unit that picks radical-minded cadre from various right-wing outfits. Parag Gokhale, an HJS activist from Pune, said, “Kale used to work with HJS, but he is not active for the last few years.”
When The Indian Express visited Kale’s house in Chinchwad, a family member said he is a businessman and not involved in any wrong activities. “We have been living in Chinchwad a long time… We do not want to talk about the case,” the family member said.
Degwekar was earlier questioned by Goa Police in connection with the 2009 Madgaon blast following his close association with Malgonda Patil, one of two Sanatan Sanstha activists who died in a blast while trying to allegedly plant a bomb at the site of a religious celebration.
Speaking to The Indian Express, his brother Viraj Degwekar said, “My brother has been wrongly arrested. He is a member of Sanatan Sanstha for a decade now. He lives and works at the Sanastan Sanstha ashram in Goa ..He was interrogated in the Goa blast case, but was not found to be involved.” The names of Kale, Degwekar, Edawe and Kumar cropped up during the interrogation of K T Naveen Kumar (37), an HJS activist. The probe revealed that a group of people, including Naveen Kumar, were surveying writer K S Bhagwan to carry out a killing on the lines of the Lankesh murder.