THE Maharashta Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested seven persons for alleged links with Maoist ultras (the banned Communist Party of India (Maoists). The ATS is probing if the arrested accused had any links to the recent violence at Bhima Koregaon. A statewide bandh had followed the protest.
ATS officials got a tip-off that one of the key members would arrive in Kalyan and they laid a trap and nabbed him. He led them to the other members. “We had a tip-off that one key member of the CPI (Maoist) is going to arrive at Kalyan station on January 12, following which a team was dispatched and he was nabbed. During interrogation, the accused gave answers which created more suspicion following which he revealed the identity of six others. Teams were dispatched and the six were apprehended from Ghatkopar and Vikhroli,” said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“There has been intelligence that for the last two-three months, the left wing extremist organisation had taken keen interest in the celebration (the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle) eyeing the support of the Dalit youth for their cause and propaganda. Whereas while the celebration were in the memory to commemorate the valour of the Dalit community, it was indirectly hurting the present ruling party,” said another senior official who spoke on the issue on the condition of anonymity, while dwelling on the intelligence findings.
Sources said the seven accused were working as ‘preachers’ and were allegedly promoting their ideology. “A team was formed following which they were dispatched to Kamraj Nagar, Ramabai Nagar and Ambedkar Nagar in Ghatkopar and Vikhroli. The investigators found suspicious documents and literature related to the banned organisation and they were brought in for interrogation,” said an official. A few of these Dalit-dominated areas of Mumbai had witnessed violent protests on the day of the bandh on January 3.
ATS suspects that six of the arrested (all aged between 35-40) were looking to recruit more individuals from Maharashtra and Gujarat. The investigators believe that the Maoists wanted to spread their ideology in the industrial belt of the two states as they had declared these parts as the ‘Golden Corridor’.
The seven accused have been booked under relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. They were produced in court and have been remanded in police custody till January 16.