PRELIMINARY interrogation of the men affiliated to radical Hindu outfits, whose arrests the Maharashtra ATS announced Friday, has revealed that the crude bombs recovered were meant to be used for low-grade attacks at public gatherings.
“The bombs were low explosive devices, not meant to cause massive casualties. They were intended to be hurled in public meetings like protest marches. While this has surfaced during preliminary interrogation, we are verifying the details,” a senior official told The Sunday Express.
A source from the forensic science laboratory said each crude bomb was sealed with a safety fuse of less than a metre. The application of force, friction, fire or pressure could activate the firing mechanism and set the non-electronic detonator afire, which would then blast the gelatine sticks or gunpowder. “The accused planned to set the explosive on fire and run off.
They would have a window of nearly a minute to escape from the explosion. The bombs were low intensity in nature, and meant for the purpose of only causing commotion and not largescale attacks,” officials said.
The FSL is trying to identify the “black substance” found in the pouch-like crude bomb allegedly assembled by the accused. “These bombs are pouch-like with some black substance in it, we are trying to ascertain if the black substance is gunpowder,” said the official.
The ATS has also recovered four electronic detonators, 10 batteries, a 6-volt battery, switches, mobile switches and a relay switch mechanism circuit drawing. “This indicates that the group was planning to prepare Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs),” the official said.
Police are studying CCTV footage to figure out how the explosives were carried, and who were the people who frequented Raut’s house in Nala Sopara. “Through the sealed items we are also trying to zero in on the shops from where the material were purchased, and who went to buy these items. This would be important in explaining the conspiracy,” the official said.
The three accused have been identified as Vaibhav Raut (40), an alleged member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti, who is an alleged sympathiser of the rightwing outfit Sanatan Sanstha, whose members are suspected in the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.
Sudhanwa Gondhalekar (39), who hails from Satara, is member of Shri Shivpratishthan Hindustan, whose chief is Sambhaji Bhide. Pune Police have booked Bhide in two criminal cases in connection with the violence near Bhima Koregaon on January 1.
The third accused, Sharad Kasalkar (25) was arrested along with Raut from Raut’s Nala Sopara residence. The ATS recovered a chit detailing how to prepare a bomb from Kasalkar.
“Gondhalekar was the one who taught the other two how to assemble a bomb. Our probe is concentrating on how he procured the literature on making bombs, and if there was a larger group involved,” said the official.
On Friday, the ATS questioned around a dozen men from Pune, Satara, Mumbai and Nala Sopara in connection with the case.