Investigative agencies claim Pune is emerging as a major centre for Maoists looking for “urban talent” for their armed struggle which they want to spread in cities.
On May 5, Gadchiroli police recovered notebooks, cartoons and literature, besides claymore mines and walky talkies during an encounter with about 60 armed Naxals of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), in Murzar jungles in the jurisdiction of Purada police station. Police said the index of one of these notebooks, accessed by Newsline, carried the signature of “Vishwa,” suspected to be a name given by Maoists to Santosh Vasant Shelar (23), a youth from Pune’s Kasewadi slums in Bhavani Peth, who went missing in 2011.
The notebook states it is a “revolutionary” of the “Communist Party of India (Maoist)”. This notebook has some drawings, cartoons, revolutionary poems, letters written to fellow comrades, maps, notes about diseases like malaria and medicines. Police said the drawings recovered along with these notebooks are by Shelar. One of the cartoons is of Suvez Haque, superintendent of Gadchiroli police.
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It states Haque’s “Nav Jeevan Yojana,” a scheme for encouraging Naxals to surrender, is “Nav Jahar Yojana (poisonous scheme).”
Inspector General Police (Nagpur range) Ravindra Kadam said, “We are sure it is a notebook of Santosh Shelar from Pune. It is a matter of concern that an artist from Pune slum was indoctrinated by Maoists to join armed struggle in jungles of Gadchiroli.”
Investigators said that surrendered Naxals revealed that Shelar has been named “Vishwa” and “painter” by Maoists. Police suspect Shelar is part of “platoon number 56 or platoon B” of North Gadchiroli Gondia Division of CPI-Maoists and carries a gun.
An officer pointed out a page in “Shelar’s” notebook having a reference of “laptop”, a name Maoists have given to Prashant Kamble (30) of Pune’s Tadiwala Road slums, who went missing in 2011. “Kamble repairs laptops, Maoists may have named him “laptop”. Madhukar alias Madhu, is part of the technical team of CPI-Maoists,” the officer said.
In 2011, Shelar and Kamble were booked by Maharashtra ATS along with 14 persons, including Angela Sontakke and several artistes of city-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), under sections of IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Police allege Angela and her husband Milind Teltumbe, a Central Committee (CC) member of CPI-Maoist, wanted in the case, indoctrinated some KKM artists into Maoist ideology.
Some KKM artists arrested by ATS got bail from Bombay High Court. The others were denied bail as four surrendered Maoists revealed they had allegedly taken arms training. KKM artists claimed they were falsely implicated by the ATS. Familes of Shelar and Kamble said they contacted KKM artists who had gone missing and had returned last year but got no clues about their location.
Shelar’s brother said he dropped out of school in class XI. “He started his hobby in childhood, drawing Shaktimaan (TV serial starring Mukesh Khanna as superhero). He is peace-loving and has never hurt anyone. He cannot be a Naxal,” he said.