3 held for explosive device outside Kalamboli school

Mumbai: A fortnight after a suspected explosive device was found near a school at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai, police arrested three persons on Wednesday evening. Police said the motive was to threaten and extort money from a renowned builder in Kalamboli. Navi Mumbai Commissioner of Police Sanjay Kumar said there was no terror angle and arrests were made swiftly. Sources said around 1pm on June 17, when the watchman of Sudhagad School in Kalamboli spotted an explosive device on a handcart outside the school, he informed the police. A team of police and bomb squad reached the spot and the device was defused with the help of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) team and the Anti-Terrorism Squad.

A special investigation team analysed the footage of 40 CCTV cameras. During the investigation, three persons, Manish Bhagat (45), Deepak Dandekar (55) and Sushil Sathe (35), were deemed as main suspects, who were arrested on Wednesday evening. The arrested trio confessed to the crime and revealed they had planned to threaten a Kalamboli-based builder and extort money. Police said the two friends, Dandekar and Bhagat, both Navi Mumbai residents, met Sathe, an estate agent, during a visit to Pune.

“Dandekar was recently fined Rs25 lakh by a court in a cheque bounce case. He was asked to deposit the money at the earliest. Bhagat had been undergoing treatment at a Pune-based hospital for a critical ailment. Bhagat had to take injections worth Rs12 lakh a month. He was unable to do so. Since, Dandekar’s family owned a stone-quarrying business, they decided to use it to their advantage and extort money from a renowned builder,” said CP Kumar.

As Sathe was a friend, he too joined them in the plot and was promised a share in the extortion. Three months ago, they rented a flat in Panvel, where they assembled an explosive device using ammonium nitrate powder and gelatin sticks, used for blasting quarries. Meanwhile, they hunted for a financially strong builder, who could part with Rs2 crore. “The accused persons planned a small explosion near the builder’s house and threaten him with dire consequences, or harm his family if he refused to pay the money. On June 17, Sathe placed the bomb outside the builder’s house, which happens to be near Sudhagad High School. Since, Sathe didn’t know how to make a bomb, he forgot to connect the wires, which would have triggered the blast at 1pm,” said Tushar Doshi, Dy Commissioner of Police (Crime).

The arrested trio have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for mischief by fire or explosive substance (section 435), mischief committed after preparation made for causing death or hurt (section 440), negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter (section 285), negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance (section 286) and relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act. Police also seized a motorbike, a laptop and a mobile phone allegedly used in the crime.

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