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Maharastra terror plot: 5th arrest by ATS

Mumbai, Aug 25 (IANS) A Mumbai court on Saturday remanded in police custody till August 31 an accused arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in connection with a terror plot unearthed after seizure of an arms cache, official sources said on Saturday.

The accused, Avinash Pawar, 30, an employee with a prominent government ship-building company, was nabbed from Ghatkopar in north-east Mumbai late on Friday night and was produced before a court on Saturday afternoon.

Pawar has been charged under the Indian Penal Code, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Explosives Substances Act, Explosives Act, pertaining to terror, criminal and terror conspiracies.

Seeking his remand, the ATS contended that he was linked with Hindutva organisations since over two years and the police had recovered a computer CPU, mobile phones and other articles from his home.

The investigators want to probe his exact role in the terror plots targeting Mumbai, Pune, Solapur and Satara, which came to light after the interrogation of those arrested following the Palghar swoop on August 10 and whether Pawar got weapons or explosives training.

Pawar’s is the fifth major arrest after the Nala Sopara (Palghar) crackdown leading to the recovery of bombs, explosives, arms and ammunition that were allegedly intended for the terror strikes around important festivals.

Besides Pawar, the ATS has arrested Hindu right-wing activists Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhnava Gondhalekar and a former Shiv Sena corporator, Shrikant Pangarkar, from Palghar and Pune.

According to the investigators, all of them are linked with prominent Hindutva groups in Maharashtra.

The ATS is exploring a multi-state right-wing terror network, probing their links with right-wing organisations in other states like Uttar Pradesh and Assam, and suspected connections with the sensational killings of several rationalists like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M. M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh in Maharashtra and Karnataka.