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Karnataka MLA Bhat's friend arrested in Padmapriya case

June 23, 2008 21:39 IST

Atul Rao, a contractor and close friend of Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Raghupathy Bhat, has been arrested in connection with the death of the latter's wife Padmapriya, who was found dead in an apartment in Delhi on June 15, police said on Monday. Rao, a childhood friend of Bhat, has been accused of "coercing" Padmapriya to accompany him to Delhi, they said.

The arrest on Monday came in the wake of a complaint by Bhat to police on June 19 alleging involvement of Rao in the disappearance of his wife and later her body being found in a private apartment in Delhi. Inspector B G Achar, who had been entrusted with the probe to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of Padmapriya on June 10 and her trip to Delhi, would soon visit the national capital to get the post mortem report, sources said.

Achar will also be visiting Goa to collect information on the movements of Padmapriya and Rao, who were there before reaching Delhi, the sources said. Padmapriya, a mother of two children went missing under mysterious circumstances on June 10 and a car reportedly driven by her was found abandoned at Kunjarugiri hills on June 13, fuelling speculations about her whereabouts.

 Rao, in the company of Bhat, was also making hectic efforts to trace Padmapriya. The facts about Padmapriya reaching Delhi was discovered by police when they questioned Rao on suspicion and escorted him to Delhi to trace her. But on opening the doors of the flat, where she stayed, her body was found hanging from a ceiling fan.

Though police questioned Rao after bringing him back to Mangalore, they had not formally arrested him as there was no complaint against him. On June 19, police produced Rao before the Western Range Inspector General of Police A M Prasad in Mangalore and he was allowed to go with his family.

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