Maoist couple Roopesh and P A Shyna, wanted in connection with at least 30 cases in Kerala, were arrested along with three other suspected Maoists by the Andhra Pradesh police from Coimbatore on Friday. Roopesh, in-charge of the Western Ghats zone of the Communist Part of India (Maoist), had been leading the Maoist movement in Kerala along with his wife.
Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala confirmed the arrests and said the suspected Maoists had moved to Tamil Nadu in the wake of heightened vigilance in Kerala. He added that the arrests were a result of the police forces of several states working together.
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According to officials, the intelligence bureaus of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana joined forces to make the arrests.
The alleged Maoists are being questioned by officials of the Andhra police and the Tamil Nadu Q-branch, and would subsequently be taken to Kerala for questioning to ascertain their role in various cases in the state.
Roopesh and Shyna were believed to be preparing for an armed struggle in the Kerala-Tamil Nadu-Karnataka tri-junction. The couple, along with Anoop, Kannan and Eswaran, were arrested from a bakery in Karumathampatti in the evening, when they were having tea, police said.
A police team from Andhra Pradesh, in coordination with the Tamil Nadu Q-branch officers, surrounded the bakery around 8.30 pm based on an intelligence tip-off. “Arrests were made without much trouble, although they did raise slogans when they were asked to surrender,” said an official.
Another officer told The Indian Express that Roopesh, who was in-charge of the Western Ghats zone of CPI(Maoist), had been on the radar of the Andhra police for a number of cases registered against him in the state.
Sources close to Roopesh said that they had received reports of his arrest four days ago. “Now we are told that they may be produced before the magistrate tomorrow,” sources said.
A law graduate with a diploma in Information Technology, Roopesh had been at the centre of a police manhunt for four years, and had been in hiding for more than a decade. Before joining the CPI(Maoist), he was with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War Group.
Lately, he had been heading the newly formed South Indian Regional Committee of Maoists, coordinating their activities on the Kerala-Karnataka-Tamil Nadu tri-junction. In 2013, he wrote a novel which was published by two publishing houses in Kerala under two different titles — ‘Maoist’ and ‘Vasanthathile Poomarangal (Flowering trees of spring)’.
Shyna, a former employee of the Kerala high court, was in the news in 2011 after she wrote a letter to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy seeking action against police officials who allegedly harassed her 71-year old mother and her two children, who live in Thrissur district.
The couple came under the radar of intelligence agencies after they allegedly gave shelter to Malla Raji Reddy, a Politburo member of CPI(Maoist) arrested in 2007 from Angamali in Kerala. Although Shyna was also arrested in the case, she was released on bail in 2008 and then went underground.
Their elder daughter Amy said that the couple had studied law after marriage. “One would study while the other would work. They married to continue their political activity,” Amy said.
She said Roopesh had gone into hiding 2002 and Shyna in 2008. “After the birth of my younger sister Savera, now an upper primary school student, Roopesh rarely visited us at home. We, the daughters, went to several places to meet our parents,” she had told The Indian Express recently.
“As a daughter, I would support their struggles. I realise my parents’ struggle is also meant for me and my future. For me, they are the true leaders who remain dedicated to their cause,” she added.
Police said that with the arrests, they had busted the entire Western Ghats Committee of the CPI(Maoists), which was operating on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. They added that the arrest of the couple was the biggest catch since the arrest of Kobad Ghandy in 2009.
Police added that an editorial in a Maoist journal in March, which hailed the progress made by the committee in the tri-junction area, had rattled the forces and added impetus to their hunt.