At the five-storey Hindon Apartments in Noida, from where five alleged Naxals were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Sunday, local residents are still shocked. A day after a team of ATS and black commandos conducted a raid and nabbed five persons from the apartment building in Noida’s Sector 49, a group of men tried to peep into the first floor flat, where two of the men, and a woman, lived.
The flat was taken on rent by Pawan Kumar Jha, who told his landlord that he was going to live there with his brother and sister, said police. On Sunday, Jha was arrested by the ATS along with four other men.
With the floor housing two other flats, the dimly-lit corridor primarily saw visitors from neighbouring buildings of the gated colony.
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In an operation which started at 9 pm Saturday, 10 persons were arrested from Noida and Chandauli for alleged Naxal links; detonators, explosives, pistols as well as an INSAS rifle were recovered from them, said police. As the area teemed with mediapersons and vans, local residents recounted the turn of events Saturday night.
“Commandos arrived at Saturday night, between 8.30 and 9 pm. Within 30 to 45 minutes, the entire operation was over. Till Sunday, we had never seen such kind of police presence here. They used to visit my shop sometimes. Many people come here… how does one know what kind of activities they are involved in,” said a grocery shop owner who runs a store less than 500 metres from the building.
According to police, one of the accused, Pawan Kumar Jha, had rented the flat 11 months ago through a real estate agent.
“Jha used to pay a monthly rent of Rs 10,500 and he moved to Hindon Vihar from Khoda Colony in Ghaziabad. He had told the flat owner that he was staying there with his brother and sister,” said a police source.
When contacted, Vaid Venu, the owner of Flat No 102, Hindon Apartments, maintained that he did not notice anything suspicious during his tenants’ 11-month stay. Venu said he lives in Ghaziabad and had visited the flat only a few times during the last one year.
“They approached me through a property dealer. Their behaviour was normal and even when I visited them, I did not notice anything untoward. Their neighbours never said anything against them. They had told me that they were working on a construction project in Greater Noida and they were taking the flat on rent since it would be closer to the project. They had submitted documents related to their identification to the property dealer. The flat was rented by Pawan Kumar Jha,” said Venu.
Somya Mishra, who lives in a flat on the same floor, said, “The two men and one woman had been living in the opposite flat for nearly a year. We hardly interacted with them. We have never faced any problems and we were not aware about their work. We though they were young professionals. The only time we would see them was when garbage was being collected or when we would be leaving the house. They had visitors – men and women – but we do not know who they were. It was only yesterday when the police and black commandos came here that we came to know about them.”