Hindu bombers break 'myth' - Mumbai police arrest 'terrorist' duo for theatre blasts

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Mumbai
  • Published 16.06.08
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Gadkari and Nikam (faces covered) after their arrest. (PTI)

Mumbai, June 16: Two Hindu “terrorists” were arrested today for allegedly planting bombs at theatres, prompting the Maharashtra chief minister to say this had shattered “the myth” that all bombers came from a particular community.

Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari, 50, and Mangesh Dinakar Nikam, 34, are accused of targeting shows of Ashutosh Gowariker’s film Jodhaa Akbar and a Marathi play that is a spoof on the Mahabharat. They are charged with two blasts that injured several people and an attempted bombing.

Police said the duo were members of the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Jana Jagruti Samiti, organisations involved in protesting “denigration” of Hindu religious icons as in, allegedly, M.F. Husain’s paintings.

“These (the bombings) were definitely terrorist acts as they were carried out by people motivated by an ideology,” said Hemant Karkare, chief of the anti-terrorist squad that nabbed the accused.

“The arrests… have broken the myth that persons belonging only to a particular community are involved (in blasts),” chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said.

Gadkari and Nikam have said they felt the play, Amhi Pachpute (We, the Pachputes) by Santosh Pawar, had “caricatured and distorted” Hindu gods, Karkare said. Jodhaa Akbar angered them by glorifying the Mughal emperor Akbar, whom they saw as an oppressor of Hindus.

The duo were arrested from Panvel on Mumbai’s outskirts and remanded in police custody till June 24.

A low-intensity explosion had taken place in a Panvel cinema screening Jodhaa Akbar on February 20 this year. On May 31, the police defused a bomb at a theatre in Navi Mumbai. In June, a blast in the car park of a theatre in Thane injured seven.

“All three bombs contained traces of ammonium nitrate and gelatin sticks. Nikam got the chemicals and made the bomb,” Karkare said. “Both admitted to working with the two organisations, but we are yet to find out if they were card-holding members. There is no evidence so far that either of the groups are involved.”

He added: “We have not found any links between the duo and the Bajrang Dal or other (Sangh parivar) groups.”

The Sanstha’s Abhay Vartak and Jana Jagruti’s Uday Dhuri denied the accused were members.

Amhi Pachpute shows the Pachpute family of five brothers and five stepbrothers quarrelling over a paan shop. It is a modified version of Pawar’s previous play, Yada Kadachit, which directly satirised the Mahabharat and angered Hindutva groups two years ago.