ATS files charge sheet against Mutalik in Malegaon case

Mumbai: Notwithstanding the Centre’s decision to hand over the 2008 Malegaon blast probe to the National Investigation Agency, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad on Thursday filed a charge sheet alleging that Abhinav Bharat activist Praveen Mutalik was the key conspirator in the bombings that left six people dead.

Mr. Praveen Mutalik, who is in his early 30s, was arrested by the ATS on January 31, 2011 from Gokak town in Belgaum district of Karnataka after evading police for over two years. (He is not related to Pramod Muthalik of the Sri Ram Sene).

Praveen Venkatesh Takalki alias Praveen Mutalik has been charged with various sections of IPC, Explosive Substances Act, Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

The 305-page charge sheet claims that he had worked as a personal secretary to Lt. Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, a key accused in the case, for three months before the blast. Lt. Col. Purohit is in judicial custody now.

The charge sheet, which has been filed despite the NIA planning to register a fresh case, has claimed Mr. Praveen Mutalik as an “important link” in the criminal conspiracy to trigger blasts in Malegaon, a town famous for its power-loom industry.

It alleged that Mr. Praveen Mutalik assembled bombs and their fuses at the behest of Lt. Col. Purohit.

Alleging that Mr. Praveen Mutalik had got training on how to assemble bombs, the ATS has charged him with aiding and abetting the crime. It has listed 40 witnesses in the charge sheet against Mr. Praveen Mutalik.

The Maharashtra ATS had earlier claimed that on September 22, 2008, Mr. Praveen Mutalik had taken keys of the rented room of Sudhakar Chaturvedi (37), another arrested accused in the case, where the explosive devices were assembled.

“Forensic evidence has established that the samples of RDX collected from the room and the samples found at the site of the blast matched,” police had said.

Six people were killed and scores wounded in the blast on September 29, 2008.

Two other accused in the case — Ramji Kalangsara and Sandeep Dange — are still on the run. The ATS has so far managed to arrest 12 people in this case including Sadhvi Pragnya, whose motorcycle was allegedly used to trigger the blast.