Santosh Maruti Mane, who hijacked on Wednesday a Maharashtra State Transport (MST) bus and drove recklessly mowing down eight persons, injuring 32 and damaging many vehicles, was remanded to police custody till February 3 by a local court here on Thursday.
Police said they want to interrogate the MST driver to find out if the incident was premeditated and had any terror angle to it.
Mane (40), who is under suspension now, had driven away the bus from the Swargate depot. He ran amok on the city's streets for more than 45 minutes till he was caught by a group of citizens and policemen.
The case is being probed by the Pune Crime Branch now. The police have booked him under sections 381, 302, 307, 326, 324 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC); and sections 3 and 7 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
“The entire Pune city is horrified by the act of a person who was staff of the State transport service. So many people tried to stop him. But he drove on mercilessly. Being a driver, he knows the rules of the Motor Vehicles Act. Still he sped through ‘no entry.' He didn't stop even after seeing the agonised and injured people. Considering his act of brutality, he should be given police custody,” Ujjwala Pawar, District Government Pleader, said in the court while seeking 14-day police custody for the accused.
Stating the grounds for seeking remand, Ms. Pawar said: “We have to find out what happened exactly — if the act was pre-planned, whether there is any connection with any terror agencies. We want to find out if there are any accomplices in the conspiracy. We also want to conduct identification parade before the victims. We will gather chemical analyser evidence from his house, the place where he was residing. We also have to check his cell phone records to see the persons with whom he was in touch.”
There was no legal representation for Mane, who his family has alleged, suffers from mental illness. He stood expressionless in the courtroom, head and ears bandaged. Asked if he wanted to tell anything to the court, he answered in the negative. None of his family members was present in the court to meet him.
“His mother and wife are in shock. We have brought them to a hospital here. I talked to him on Wednesday night. He wants us to come there to meet him. I have told him, we will come there once things are okay here,” Janak Mane, Santosh's elder brother, told The Hindu from Solapur.
The police have not yet recorded Mane's statement. Police officials said he has been uttering incoherent sentences.
Meanwhile, the Pune Bar Association issued an appeal to the lawyers not to take up his legal representation. “Considering the brutal and gory act that he has done, it is the duty of the lawyers to protest against it,” advocate Amol Kajale-Patil, Secretary of the Pune Bar Association, told The Hindu.