Belagavi district magistrate court has permitted the Belagavi police to reopen investigations into the petrol bomb attack on Prakash Theatre that was screening Bollywood film Padmaavat. According to The Indian Express report, the move follows the ongoing investigations by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
The SIT investigations had revealed a conspiracy by a radical Hindu group to kill the rationalists and “anti-Hindutva” activists, and the same investigation has also uncovered that the same group was behind all the attacks on theatre screenings of the movie Padmaavat in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
On January 25, 2018, two unidentified persons had hurled two petrol bombs at the theatre, causing panic and cancellation of the shows. The Indian Express has reported that Amol Kale, the main accused in the Gauri Lankesh case, had also engineered the plan to attack theatres. Kale is former convenor of the Hindu terrorist outfit Sanatan Sanstha (SS). The SIT had recovered a diary from Kale which had uncovered a conspiracy to kill various rationalists and plans to attack theatres. According to this report, Kale had noted, “Throw stones at the entrance. Use petrol bomb on the vehicles. Use crackers and rods at the ticket counter. Make fake calls, and throw pamphlet. Theatre audience and producer will have loss,’’ ahead of the attacks.
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Sharad Kalaskar and Sudhanva Gondhalekar were earlier arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for allegedly hoarding explosives and plotting terrorism activities. They also are linked to the murder of Narendra Dabholkar and Lankesh. Kalaskar is a member of SS, while Gondhalekar is a member of SS as well as of Shivpratishthan Hindustan. The ATS had told the Pune sessions court that the information decoded from Kalaskar’s computer brought to the light the fact that they were planning to bomb the venue of the Sunburn Festival in Pune and screenings of movie Padmavat at cinema houses in Belgaum and in Kalyan, reported allaboutbelgaum.com.
Sanatan Sanstha and Bombs
For the SS, bombs, explosives and other weapons are a necessity to establish what they call a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). It is a necessity because one of the ways according to Jayant Balaji Athavale – founder of the SS – to establish Hindu Rashtra, one has to kill those who oppose the Hindu Rashtra project. This is not the first time that the SS or its associates are named in violent attacks in the name of Hindutva.
The activists of the SS have been arrested in several bomb blast cases in the past. The organisation was also accused, and two of its supporters were given 10-year imprisonment for bomb blasts in the Gadkari Rangayatan auditorium in Thane on June 4, 2008. This was apparently done to protest against a Marathi play, Amhi Pachpute, which they had claimed, showed Hindu gods in a poor light. Those who were arrested are currently out on the bail.
The Goa police arrested six SS members involved in a bomb blast in Madgaon, Goa, in October 2009. According to the police, two SS supporters, Malgonda Patil and Yogesh Naik, were allegedly carrying a bomb in their scooter, to plant it near the Narkasur effigy competition in Madgaon. The duo died as the bomb went off prematurely.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which had taken over the investigations, has alleged that an SS member, who was an engineering student, played a key role in preparing the improvised explosive devices (IED) and carrying detonators and timer devices for the blast. However, all six were acquitted, and some of the SS members still remain absconding. All of these attacks were in the name of “protecting” the Hindu religion.
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