BEGALURU – Four missing members of the Hindutva outfit Abhinav Bharat trained several suspects linked to the Sanatan Sanstha group in making bombs at secret camps across the country from 2011 to 2016, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The police made the claim in documents it submitted to a Bengaluru court in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.
The absconding members of Abhinav Bharat are wanted for their alleged role in the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Dargah and Malegaon blasts. Two of these, Ramji Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, have been declared “proclaimed offenders”.
Bharatiya Janata Party Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur is also an accused in the Malegaon blasts case.
The Special Investigation Team probing Lankesh’s September 2017 murder has alleged that three men linked to the Sanatan Sanstha who have been arrested, and four witnesses who attended the camps, said a “Babaji” and four “Gurujis” were present at the camps. The “Babaji”, linked to the Ajmer Dargah blasts, has been identified as Suresh Nair, who was arrested in November 2018.
Three other bomb experts who attended the camps have been identified as Dange, Kalsangara and Ashwini Chauhan, all “proclaimed offenders” in the Samjhauta Express case, The Indian Express reported, citing sources. Another bomb expert is Prathap Hazra, who is linked to the Hindutva outfit Bhavani Sena in West Bengal.
The police said that the Sanatan Sanstha organised 19 camps across India to provide training in firearms, improvised explosive devices and subterfuge tactics. The five bomb experts attended five camps in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka. The camps provided training to dozens of people, who were recruited by a covert unit of the Sanatan Sanstha accused of the murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.
Among the suspects who attended these camps, Amit Degwekar, Kalaskar, Pangarkar, Suryavanshi, Ganesh Miskin, Amit Baddi and Bharat Kurne have been identified.
Meanwhile, Abhinav Bharat also held five training camps – Jalna in 2011 and January 2015, Mangaluru in August 2015, Ahmedabad in November 2015 and Nasik in January 2016, the police said.
However, the SIT denied that Thakur or Abhinav Bharat had any role in Lankesh’s murder, PTI reported. “SIT has not found in its investigation or mentioned in the charge sheet any link to Sadhvi Pragya, Malegaon blasts, Abhinav Bharat,” it said in a statement. “There is no evidence to suggest the same. No documents purporting the same have been submitted to the court.”
In March, the Supreme Court directed that the murder case of Kannada writer MM Kalburgi be transferred to the same special investigation team that is looking into the killing of Lankesh. In February, the Supreme Court had noted that the murders of Kalburgi, Lankesh and activists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare were part of a “very serious case”. However, Lankesh’s sister Kavitha Lankesh has challenged the suggestionto club the investigations.