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Members of Hindu Right-Wing Group Plotted on Bombing Sunburn

The police uncovered plans involving terror attacks on the popular music festival and several other public spaces around the country

Rolling Stone India Aug 30, 2018

A group of Hindu right-wing sympathizers planned on carrying out terror attacks around the country; one of the alleged targets was EDM festival Sunburn. Photo: Courtesy of Sunburn Festival

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Evidence recently presented to a sessions court in Mumbai revealed a group of Hindu right-wing sympathizers’ plans to carry out terror attacks around the country. One of the biggest targets on their list was the 2017 edition of electronic music festival Sunburn.

This information came to light soon after the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad carried out a series of raids in Nalasopara and Pune from August 9th to 11th, seizing a collection of homemade explosives and illegal weapons. The police arrested nine suspects in total at the time, including Vaibhav Raut, co-founder of a gau-rakshak organization and fellow Hindu right-wing sympathizers Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, Avinash Pawar and Srikant Pangalkar.

A more recent sweep through Kalaskar’s computer unveiled the plots to attack Sunburn and several other public spaces around the country, including movie theaters screening the 2018 Deepika Padukone-starrer Padmaavat. According to the ATS, the suspects chose these targets because they were “against Hindu culture.”

While Raut and Gondhalekar are also alleged supporters of the Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha, the organization has denied being connected to the individuals arrested. Their representative Chetan Rajhans stated in a recent interview, “We are a spiritual organisation and do not believe in the philosophy of violence.”

Last month the police revealed Raut, Kalaskar and Gondhalekar were arrested based on intelligence inputs provided by the Karnataka Special Investigation Team looking into the September 2017 murder of Bengaluru-based journalist Gauri Lankesh. Kalaskar also went on to confess about his alleged involvement in the 2013 murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.

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All nine suspects were booked under sections of the IPC’s Explosive Substances Act, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Raut, Kalaskar, Gondhalekar and Pangarkar were produced in court on Tuesday where police custody was extended by a week.

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