Blast after Blast

Written by Teesta Setalvad | Published on: August 1, 2008
he was staying at Aurangabad for (a) BPEd diploma along with his friend in the year 2004 Panse visited the place in May 2004 and at that time witness Shrikar Shivsamb Sonawale and three others went round Aurangabad city and Panse inspected the masjid carefully."
  • "From the false beard and moustache confiscated during the house search of Himanshu Venkatesh Panse and the conversation on mobile No. 9822297494 of witness Atul Vinod Kamtikar, it was revealed that Wagh was to visit Aurangabad on April 5, 2006… and hence (a) motorcycle was kept ready on April 4, 2004 at Dhoot Motors, of Sachin Suresh Kadam, for carrying out some work at Aurangabad."

  • "All these facts reveal that these accused had preplanned a bomb explosion at some mosque for the purpose of creating unrest among Hindus and Muslims."

  • Terror squads


    • Based on its findings, the ATS included Sanatkumar Ragvithal Bhate, a Pune resident, in the list of witnesses. In his statements given to the ATS on April 20 and May 18, 2006 Bhate revealed that he had been with the RSS since 1996 and was formerly a member of the Indian navy. Bhate confessed that in March or April 2000 he received a telephone call from the office of the Bajrang Dal situated behind the Saraswati Mandir School, Pune. Dal leader Milind Parade requested Bhate to train his activists, due to arrive in Pune for a camp, in the use of "short sticks" (gelatine sticks). He admitted to attending the camp to carry out the requested training. Around 40-50 state-level activists attended the camp at which one of the accused, Himanshu Panse, was the group leader. Bhate said he met Panse at the camp. Parade then requested Bhate to also participate in an upcoming national-level camp of activists at the Bhonsala Military School, Nagpur. Parade and three of his disciples from Pune carried 300 sticks with them for this camp, said Bhate. Why was Bhate not named among the accused by the investigating agencies, not even by the ATS?

    • Bhate stated that on arriving at the Bhonsala Military School he learnt that the camp had been organised by the RSS to give karate, ground obstacles and revolver firing training to participants. Two retired ex-servicemen who were present at the camp trained participants in revolver handling. Also attending was a senior retired officer from the Intelligence Bureau (IB). In all there were 115 participants from all over India at the camp.

    • Govind Nagacharya Puranik, a BSNL employee at the Nanded telephone exchange, also played a key role in the nefarious activities. A member of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh trade union affiliated to the RSS, Puranik revealed in his recorded statements to the police and the ATS between April and June 2006 that he had been attending RSS camps since 2000. Puranik, a well-educated man, was fully aware of the terrorist designs of Himanshu Panse, Naresh Rajkondwar, Rahul Pande and others. He nonetheless provided logistical support for their criminal activities for a number of years. He financed and helped the accused persons both before and after the Nanded incident. Fearing an arrest, Puranik filed an anticipatory bail application before the sessions court, Nanded. The court readily granted him anticipatory bail!

    • Also implicated by the ATS was Shrikar Shivsambh Sonwale, a Nanded resident. In a recorded statement to the ATS in May 2006 Sonwale admitted to a close friendship with several of the main accused in the Nanded incident. He stated that while they were drinking together one evening Maroti Wagh had told him in great detail how Himanshu Panse and he had detonated a bomb in a Parbhani mosque (November 2003). This showed that Sonwale knew about Wagh and Panse’s involvement in a terrorist act. But he withheld this vital information from the police. Had he informed the police at that point in time Panse and gang could have been apprehended and the explosions that followed at other places could have been prevented.

    • The search operation at Panse’s house unearthed items of disguise – an artificial beard, shervani, etc – used in order to assume the appearance of a Muslim. The police and the ATS collected sufficient evidence against all the accused to establish