They alleged that he was being framed and that it is the courts that will decide his fate.
Mumbai: Countering the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS)’s allegations against Vaibhav Raut (40), who has been arrested along with two others for plotting attacks across multiple locations in the state, right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha’s office-bearers described him as “an active, good social worker” who engaged himself with the cause of cow protection in Palghar over the last several years. They alleged that he was being framed and that it is the courts that will decide his fate.
“Vaibhav Raut is a member of ‘Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti’ and participated in some programmes by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, in which members of several organisations had participated. He is neither a member of the Sanatan Sanstha nor of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti,” said Abhay Vartak, a spokesperson of the Sanatan Sanstha. He said, “He used to campaign against cow slaughter and irregular use of loudspeakers for religious purposes like ‘azaa-n’.”
Sunil Ghanvat, the coordinator of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) for Maharashtra, and Chhatisgadh, said his organisation knew Raut for the past “three to four years” as an activist for ‘Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti’.
“He used to attend our programmes in Mumbai, in which members from over a hundred Hindu outfits would come,” he said.
Mr Raut is a daring “cow-protector” (gau-rakshak), he said. Raut had not attended the HJS programmes for the past few months.
“The police will do its job. Whatever the allegations against him are, they would be answered in the court by his lawyers,” he said.
The Nalasopara police had booked Mr Raut in a case in 2014 after he had held up a truck with cows alleging that they were being taken for slaughtering.
The investigation revealed that it was not the case and hence the police registered a case against him. His activities were inclined towards religious but extremist activities even before the case was registered against him.