Two arrested for Navi Mumbai blasts

June 17th, 2008 - 7:43 am ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) The Maharashtra Police Monday arrested two people in adjacent Navi Mumbai town in connection with a series of bomb blasts in the area in which seven people were injured. The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) swooped down on the Sanatan ashram around 2 a.m. Monday morning and nabbed the two men, identified as Hanumant Gadkari (50) and Mahesh D. Nikam (35).

Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare said the duo belonged to the Hindu Jan Jagriti Manch (HJJM) and between February and June were responsible for three bomb blasts in the Navi Mumbai area.

Two bombs exploded outside a theatre June 4 on the eve of Indian Premiere League finals. Two others were exploded in Navi Mumbai May 31 and in Panvel February 20.

The duo was produced before a Mumbai court and remanded in custody till June 24, Karkare told reporters.

In recognition of the ATS’ work, the state government Monday announced a reward of Rs.250,000 for the sleuths who had cracked the case after investigations spread over six months and the interrogation of nearly 1,500 suspects.

According to Karkare, the targets of the HJJM activists were generally theatrical shows that allegedly vilified Hindu holy figures.

The ATS also seized a motorcycle registered in ashram’s name and the vehicle’s logbook entries enabled the investigators zero in on the prime accused.

The motorcycle had been extensively used in January-February for reconnaisance trips in Navi Mumbai and other areas for identifying sites to set off the explosions.

Replying to a question, Karkare did not rule out the possibility of initiating action against the ashram authorities if their involvement in the blasts was established.

The ATS also learnt that Ratnagiri police had detained Nikam two years ago for illegally possessing some detonators. He learnt the basics of making and setting off bombs from a friend, the police said.

The HJJM, led by Jayant Athavale, had also protested in 2002 against celebrated artist M.F. Husain’s paintings of Hindu deities.

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