If the statement of a surrendered Maoist is to be believed, Arun Bhelke, arrested along with his wife Kanchan Nanaware by the Anti-Terrorism Squad on Tuesday, was connected with the artistes of Pune-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). During the probe, the ATS is learnt to have recovered photographs purportedly showing Bhelke with some of the suspects from Pune who were earlier arrested for alleged Naxal links.
A “Maoist” who had surrendered before the Yavatmal police in 2013 citing medical reasons said in his statement that he earlier worked with Bhelke for his outfit Deshbhakta Yuva Manch and also for his magazine College Katta.
A native of Yavatmal, this “surrendered Naxal” is the husband of Anuradha Sonule, who was arrested along with KKM members and Angela Sontakke of the banned outfit CPI-Maoist in Pune in 2011.
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The statement accessed by The Indian Express reveals that he passed his HSC from Chandrapur and also did an ITI course around 2003. He joined the Maoists after coming in contact with one Arun Ferriera while doing the ITI course. He then met Arun Bhelke and Manoj Sonule, and worked with them for College Katta, which they sold in schools and colleges for Rs 5 per copy.
The state further says he had a meeting with Maoist operatives Deepak alias Milind Teltumbde (current central committee member) and Anil alias Vikas Nagapure (current state committee chief) at a medical college in Nagpur. Being a good driver, the Maoists gave him a van, which was used for transportation of gelatin sticks and detonators. He shifted his residence to Nagpur in 2004. Deepak and Nagapure used to visit his room to make posters and pamphlets.
But after being watched by the police, he shifted to Chandrapur and worked for College Katta and Deshbhakta Yuva Manch.
Meanwhile, he was involved in transportation of urban activists to jungle areas in his van. He carried senior Maoist leaders, including Anuradha Ghandy, to different spots in his van in 2007 and 2008. He also delivered letters to Deepak’s wife Iskara alias Angela in Mumbai and other letters/documents to contacts in Chandrapur and Nagpur.
He married Anuradha in 2010-2011. He worked in Ahmednagar then. As per Deepak’s orders, he surveyed the movements of Army trucks carrying ammunition from Khadaki to Ahmednagar… “There were plans to loot the ammunition trucks on the National Highway-6 in Deori,” said the statement.
Meanwhile, following Angela’s arrest, Anuradha and other suspects from Pune, KKM artistes Sachin Mali alias Sameer, Sheetal alias Janaki, Ramesh Gaichor alias Yogesh, Sagar Gorkhe alias Aakash and Priyanka alias Rupali Jadhav joined the cadres in Dalams operating from jungles in 2012 “Arun Bhelke brought Gorkhe, Mali and Sheetal Sathe to the jungle. They lived in Korchi and Balaghat area for six to seven months. They performed revolutionary songs before Naxals in the jungles. In July 2012, Bhelke came to the jungle and took Sachin and Sheetal back to work in a city area…” the Maoist said in his statement.
Sachin, Sheetal, Ramesh and Sagar had surrendered in 2013. A pregnant Sheetal was granted bail; others are still in jail. The statement of the surrendered Maoist was considered by the Bombay High Court while rejecting their bail. The KKM artistes, however, claimed that all allegations against them were false.