Key Malegaon blast accused Mutalik held, handed over to ATS

Praveen Mutalik, an absconding accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, has been arrested.

Updated: Feb 02, 2011, 12:43 PM IST

Mumbai: In a major boost to the 2008
Malegaon blast probe involving radical Hindu outfits, the
Maharashtra ATS has arrested a key accused, Praveen Mutalik,
from Karnataka, who dodged the police for over two years.

Praveen Venkatesh Takalki alias Praveen Mutalik was
picked from Gokak town in Belgaum district of Karnataka late
last night, Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria said.

Mutalik, a member of Abhinav Bharat, was produced
before a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA)
court which remanded him in police custody till February 14.

The 32-year-old had worked as a personal secretary to
Lt Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, another key accused held
in the case, for three months before the blast.

Describing Mutalik as an "important link in the probe
and integral part of the criminal conspiracy", who attended
secret meetings at Nashik, Panchwadi and Pune, Maria said his
interrogation will help the investigators ascertain as to what
exactly happened on days preceding the blast.

On September 22, 2008, Mutalik had taken keys of the
rented room of Sudhakar Chaturvedi (37), another arrested
accused in the case, where the explosive devices had been

"Forensic evidence has established that the samples of
RDX collected from the room and the samples found at the site
of the blast did match," Maria said.

Six people had been killed and scores wounded in the
bomb blast on September 29, 2008, in communally sensitive
powerloom town Malegaon in Nashik district.

Asked if Mutalik had planted the bomb, Maria said his
complete role in the incident would be known only after
further interrogation.

Two other accused in the case-- Ramji Kalangsara and
Sandeep Dange--are still eluding the dragnet.

With this, the number of arrests in the case has gone
up to 12. The ATS had already arrested 11 persons including
prime accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Colonel
Shrikant Prasad Purohit, also members of the same right-wing
Hindu group.

Maria said Maharashtra ATS had been hot on the trail
of Mutalik, who has a diploma in Mechanical Engineering, for
the last three months but he managed to give them the slip.

"For the past three months, we had been working on the
information that Takalki was actually Praveen Mutalik. Acting
on the inputs, we picked him up from outside his shop where he
sold SIM cards. He had been operating the shop in partnership
with another person," he said.

Mutalik has been associated with Abhinav Bharat since
2008, the year when the blast took place.

His name had cropped up in the statements of the
arrested accused recorded by the investigating officers.

The charge sheet in the case had been filed on January
20, 2009 and a proclamation order was issued by the MCOCA
court against Mutalik and two other absconding accused on
August 26, 2010. The charge sheet mentioned his surname as
Mutalik and not Takalik.

Maria refused to comment as to how the investigators
could not establish his real name all these months.