Special team to probe Goa blast


Panaji/Mumbai: The Goa police Sunday formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe a low-intensity blast in South Goa that killed two activists of a right-wing Hindu group Friday night, officials said Sunday.

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Two activists of Sanatan Sanstha were killed in Margao town when explosives being ferried in their scooter went off in a traffic jam.

Senior police officials told IANS that no arrests have been made in the state so far. Police officers said they believed the bomb was meant for a Hindu gathering in the town which the Hindu group bitterly opposed.

The police also detected and defused three other improvised explosive devices (IEDs), two of which were found near the blast site and one nearly 25 km away in Sancoale, near the port town of Vasco, 35 km from the capital.

Superintendent of Police Om Prakash Kurtadkar has been appointed the SIT chief to spearhead the probe.

On Sunday, a Goa police team left for Sangli district in Maharashtra to interrogate three Sanatan Sanstha activists who were detained for the blast, authorities said.

Malgunda Patil, one of the two killed, hailed from Sangli and was living in Goa for nearly two years at the Sanatan Sanstha ashram, police said.

Goa Home Minister Ravi Naik said: “This Malgunda Patil was originally from Sangli. The police team is expected to find out more about his background. They will also question the persons we have asked to be detained in Sangli.”

Police sources said the team will also be questioning Patil’s family and his known associates in Sangli.

The Mumbai anti-terror squad (ATS) team, which is in Goa to assist the police in the investigation, visited the scene of the blast Sunday.

The Mumbai ATS is already probing three blast cases in 2008 allegedly involving Sanatan Sanstha activists in Thane, Navi Mumbai and Panvel and police officers here said their experience would help in probing the Goa blast.

The anti-terror team, in a joint operation with the state police, raided a printing press operated by the Sanstha.

The police have named the two deceased, Patil and Yogesh Naik, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and under other sections of the Indian Penal Code for waging war against the country. The police have also detained four Sanatan Sanstha activists for questioning.

Meanwhile, the politics has started colouring the explosion with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calling the blast a “dastardly act” and accusing the home minister of settling political scores by interfering with investigations in the case.

“It appears that a political colour is being given to the case. The home minister should let the police investigate first before naming anyone,” Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar said, referring to the ongoing feud between Ravi Naik and a cabinet colleague, whose nephew the home minister initially named as a suspect.

Parrikar said Goa was increasingly becoming a soft target for terrorism and that the law and order situation was in the “shambles”.

Parrikar said the BJP wanted the police to go the root cause of the blast.

“If anyone is found guilty, be it Sanatan Sanstha or anyone else for that matter, they should be severely punished,” he said.