P. Venkata Rao Goud, who is believed to be the mastermind behind the kidnap and murder of 10-year-old Palagani Naga Vaishnavi on January 30, was arrested and produced before the magistrate here on Monday.

The city police had already arrested Morla Srinivasa Rao and Vemparala Jagadeesh, who allegedly executed the plan at the behest of Goud. The duo is serving judicial remand.

Goud was produced before the First Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at the latter's residence amidst tight police security before the beginning of court hours. His face was covered and the police tried their best to keep at bay the posse of lensmen and media persons, who got wind of the arrest and descended on the place.

The magistrate remanded Goud to 15-day custody till February 22. He was immediately shifted to the district jail.

Notwithstanding rumours that Goud was in the police custody from the day Vaishnavi was killed, Police Commissioner K.V. Rajendranath Reddy had said at the time of arrest of Srinivasa Rao and Jagadeesh that he was still "at large" and they had no idea of his whereabouts. The police are now said to be showing him as arrested on Sunday evening.