The Maharashtra Anti-terror Squad made a very important arrest in the Malegaon blast case late Monday night. Praveen Muthalik, who is said to be one of the executors of the blast, was arrested and later remanded in police custody till February 14. He had been absconding for nearly two years.
The ATS has been on his trail since his name figured in the interrogation of Colonel Srikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, other accused in the case. The ATS had even gone to Karnataka two years back to look for Muthalik but returned empty handed.
Muthalik’s arrest solves a major problem for the ATS. He is important since he is one of the three persons who planted the bomb in 2006, which killed several people. Two others in the team — Ramji Kalsanghra and Sandeep Dange — are absconding. Muthalik’s arrest may help the ATS make sense out of the case and also help investigating agencies in their search for Dange and Kalasanghra.
Interestingly the confession of Swami Aseemanand, who is an accused in several blasts cases, does not make any mention of Muthalik. However, investigators say that this does not indicate that Muthalik was not involved since Aseemanand’s confession regarding the Malegaon incident is very vague. He only says that he met with Dange and Kalsanghra and both had told him that they had returned from Maharashtra and two days later he had read about the Malegaon blasts.
ATS sources say that Muthalik was part of the gang which executed the Malegaon attack. They are not sure whether he had any role to play in the other blasts in which the names of his accomplices, Dange and Kalsanghra, have cropped up.
Many other agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and the National Investigation Agency will want to quiz Muthalik. Apart from information regarding the other two missing accomplices, Muthalik may also have information regarding the sourcing of the RDX used in the blasts, which still remains a mystery.
An earlier version that Purohit had stolen them from the army and sourced it for the Malegaon blast has not been established and the ATS has been hoping that Muthalik will provide those answers.
Muthalik’s interrogation will be very crucial for investigators as they try and join the dots in the case.