Sunburn terror plot: Suspects planned to hurl bomb and escape via highway

Sep 03, 2018, 11:39 IST | Rahul Mahajani

Right-wing activists had made full preparations, including assembling crude bombs and had every intention of hurling them into the crowd, before making their escape on a motorcycle

Sunburn terror plot: Suspects planned to hurl bomb and escape via highway
While Sunburn 2016 was cancelled, the 2017 edition drew thousands of music lovers. Pic/Sunburn Festival

The only reason right-wing activists didn't bomb Sunburn 2016 in Pune was because the EDM (electronic dance music) festival was cancelled at the last minute. Arrested accused Sharad Kalaskar told the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that they had made full preparations, including assembling crude bombs, and had every intention of hurling them into the crowd, before making their escape on a motorcycle.

As per sources in the ATS, Kalaskar was supposed to execute the plan along with Sudhanva Gondhalkar, 39, another arrested accused from Pune. During interrogation, Kalaskar told the agency that they had made crude bombs, which they planned to throw at revellers at Sunburn, to cause panic and damage. He added that they had planned to go to the venue on motorcycles, and escape via the highway. He also said they were against the western music festival as it was against Hindu culture.

Sunburn was held in Pune in 2017. Pic/Sunburn Festival Facebook
Sunburn was held in Pune in 2017. Pic/Sunburn Festival Facebook

Interestingly, it was the same argument by local right-wing groups that led to the cancellation of the fest at the eleventh hour — 2016 was the first year the fest was to be held in Pune after nine editions in Goa. The Goa government had turned the organisers away after they failed to pay their dues. Meanwhile, in Pune, locals protested that the festival was a hub for open drug consumption and that it was against Indian culture.

Whose idea was it?
The terror plot was hatched at a house where Kalaskar was staying in Kadoli village, Satara district. The ATS is now investigating if and when the accused did a recce at the venue at Kesnand village on the Pune-Ahmednagar highway. They are also investigating whether the plot was Kalaskar's brainchild or if there was another mastermind. Incidentally, Kalaskar was also allegedly one of the shooters in the Dr Narendra Dabholkar murder case. He told the investigators that he received weapons training in Jalna and Belgaum.

The ATS also arrested three others — Vaibhav Raut, 40, from Nalasopara; former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar, 40, from Jalna; and Avinash Pawar alias Ajit Dada from Ghatkopar in connection with the Nalasopara arms haul. It is probing if these suspects were part of the Sunburn conspiracy. It has found that Pawar, an employee with Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, was on leave in the period when the plot was hatched. He was also on leave when the Padmaavat bombings took place in January.

Bombs, getaway bikes
The investigators have recovered 20 crude bombs, along with country-made pistols with magazines, country guns, airgun, pistol barrels, partially-made pistols, trigger mechanism, number plates of vehicles, a chopper, hard disks, pen drives and other material from Nalasopara and Pune between August 9 and 10. The seized material has been sent to forensic analysis to check when they were assembled.

It is suspected these very bombs were to be used in the Sunburn attack. Sources said the ATS also seized four motorbikes, which were allegedly to be used to escape from the festival after setting off the bombs.

Also Read: Right-wing terror suspects targeted Padmaavat shows

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