Thane ashram attack main accused Damle arrested from hotel in MP

Thane: Suspended NCP councillor Ashish Damle of the Kulgaon-Badlapur Municipal Council, who went into hiding after the attack on an ashram on June 2, was arrested from a hotel in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh today, police said.

Thane DSP Rajesh Pradhan who addressed an impromptu press conference here in the evening said that a local Crime Branch police team nabbed the absconding councillor from a hotel in Tikamgadh district of Madhya Pradesh.

On June 2, Damle and around 30 men allegedly attacked Naresh Vitthal Ratnakar's ashram, ransacked it, beat up inmates and decamped with Rs 1 lakh, besides a rifle as well as live cartridges, he said.

The mob had attacked the ashram with stones, smashed cars, damaged closed circuit television cameras as well as attacked inmates, he said.

Damle had claimed that Naresh's niece Pallavi Santosh Ratnakar is his wife and dragged her away forcibly, the police official said. Later, Pallavi who was rescued, was reunited with her parents, the police official said.

The local police then registered an offence against Damle and the attackers under Section 363, Section 395, Section 452, Section 323, Section 504, Section 506 and Section 427 of the Indian Penal Code, the police official said.

The police arrested as many as ten people who allegedly took part in the attack, but the main accused Ashish Damle had escaped and applied for anticipatory bail at the local court which rejected his application, the police official said.

Pradhan told reporters that a couple of police teams were formed to trace the accused who was absconding but their efforts did not bear any fruit.

However, after Ashish Damle's anticipatory bail was rejected, the police received confirmed information that he had escaped out of Maharashtra, the police official said.

On June 6, the police received a tip-off that the accused was in hiding in Bhopal's Royal Star Hotel, the police official said, adding that the police team reached the hotel at around 6 am, only to draw a blank, since he had left the hotel an hour ago.

Later, he was traced to a hotel in Tikamgarh, which is located near Jhansi on the border between Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the police official said.

The accused was arrested along with one Keval Varma who had also absconded along with him and was allegedly one of those involved in the ashram attack, the police official said.

Both of them have been arrested and brought to Thane district, to be presented before the court, the police official said.

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