THE Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad claimed to have arrested five more Naxals on Sunday, taking the total arrests since Saturday night to 10. One of those arrested on Sunday was held from Chandauli in eastern UP, while police are looking for another person from the village.
The UP Police claimed that Sunil Ravidas, 30, who was arrested from Chandauli, as well as 28-year-old Ranjit Paswan and Krishna Kumar, 42, held from Noida on Saturday, were members of the splinter Maoist organisation Triteeya Sammelan Prastuti Committee (TSPC).
The absconding accused has been identified as Ramapati, also from Chandauli.
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While some reports said one of the arrested persons was from Latehar, the UP ATS and Jharkhand Police denied this. “None of the arrested persons is from Latehar or Jharkhand,” Latehar SP Anup Birthare told The Indian Express.
A Jharkhand-based group that is now on the decline, the TPSC has been involved in armed conflict with the CPI (Maoist) for years, often with the aid of the state police. The CPI (Maoist) is the main Naxal group in the country.
The ATS said the 10 accused were “experts in bombmaking”, and Ravidas was “the main person”. The National Investigation Agency is planning to also question the accused.
At a press conference on Sunday, Inspector General, UP ATS, Aseem Arun said that last month, the Gautam Buddh Nagar district police had received a tip-off about “suspicious activities”, from a local in the area. “An aware citizen informed that some Naxalite activities were taking place in Noida and some people are likely to carry out a big incident around Diwali. On the basis of this information, around 9 pm on October 15, a team of UP ATS and commandos surrounded a flat in Hindon Vihar in Noida Sector 49 and arrested five persons… After preliminary questioning, their associates were arrested,” said Arun.
He claimed that they moved in on Saturday night after receiving information that weapons were being transported and that the men were gathering.
Initial investigations indicated plans for kidnapping, murder, bank and ATM robberies, the officer said. “There is a new trend. Naxals are not just looking at dominating areas, they want money. We are not experts in Bihar Naxalism, so the Intelligence Bureau team, other agencies are here.”
In the five-decade history of the Maoist struggle, this would be the first instance of Naxals planning to loot an ATM.
“They had taken up two flats on rent and a small shop in Noida. The shop was used to carry out property business. The nature of these operations is under investigation,” Arun added. Sources claimed one of the accused may have carried out Naxal operations under the garb of a real estate firm.
Police claim to have recovered 125 detonators, three 32 bore pistols, one 9 mm pistol, three 315 bore country-made revolvers, more than 80 cartridges, two laptops, 13 mobile phones, cash amounting to Rs 75,000, apart from four cars and a motorcycle, from the men. Arun said an INSAS rifle, “belonging to one of the forces”, and two other recovered rifles were of “very good quality”
While five of the men were arrested on Saturday night from Noida, four were arrested from nearby Sadarpur area around 4 am on Sunday. Ravidas was arrested from Chandauli.
Apart from Ravidas, Ranjit Paswan and Krishna Kumar, Pawan Kumar Jha (25), Sunil Kumar Yadav (25), Shailendra Kumar (41), Sachin Kumar (28), Suraj (22), Ashish Saraswat (18), and Brij Kishor Tomar (22) were arrested.
Six of the accused — Ravidas, Paswan, Sachin Kumar, Saraswat, Tomar and Suraj — are from UP. The others are from Bihar. Western UP, from where three of the men come, has virtually no Naxal presence.