The Bhandari community and self-proclaimed cow vigilantes have taken to the streets to protest the arrest of terror-accused Vaibhav Raut. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on August 10 arrested three men associated with radical Hindu outfits from Nalasopara and Satara following multiple raids merely days before Independence Day and Bakrid. Major terror attacks at multiple places had been averted after a recovery of a huge cache of explosives, including live crude bombs and gelatin sticks had been made by the ATS.
The three arrested have been identified as 40-year-old Vaibhav Raut, 39-year-old Sudhanwa Gondhalekar and 25-year-old Sharad Kasalkar, the Indian Express reported. Raut is an alleged member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti and also a sympathiser of the right wing Sanatan Sanstha. Suspects affiliated with the Sansthan were allegedly behind the murder of rationalists including journalist Gauri Lankesh. Raut, stays in a three-storeyed bungalow in Bhandaraly village in Nalasopara.
His Hindutva activities and ideologies were well-known in his village and he was a popular face. The supporters of Raut, came out in large numbers on the streets of Nalasopara where they were chanting slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Shri Ram’. According to mid-day Raut, who branded himself as a gau rakshak, used to carry out illegal raids on butcher shops in the Nalasopara area. He used to threaten Muslim owners of the butcher shops and try to create communal disharmony in his neighbourhood.
— Mumbai Mirror (@MumbaiMirror) August 17, 2018
Every year, the police would extern him from the area for short periods, by serving him notices under section 144 of the Mumbai Police Act; he, however, would stay put by bringing in political influence in the name of cow protection, said an officer, adding that even the police will breathe easy after his arrest. However, his supporters came out on the roads, wearing t-shirts, carrying huge posters of Raut on the roads to protest against his arrest and terror charges.
The Maharashtra government currently is awaiting a nod from the Centre for the ban on the controversial Hindutva outfit, ‘Sanathan Sanstha’.