The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested an alleged top Maoist leader, identified as K Muralidharan alias Thomas Joseph alias Skaria alias Gopi Alias Raghavan alias Ajith (62), and his close aide as Ismail Hamaza Chiragpilli alias Pravin alias James Mathew (29), from Talegaon Dabhade area, located about 30 km from Pune city.
A native of Ernakulam in Kerala, Ajith was the national secretary of the banned Communist Party of India (ML) Naxalbari, which merged with the banned CPI (Maoist) on May 1, 2014. Ajit then became the central committee member of the CPI (Maoists), said police sources.
He went underground in 1990 and has been allegedly involved in Maoist activities, including violence in Kerala and other states of India. His aide Ismail is also a native of Kerala and hails from Mallapuram district of the state. He too was a part of CPI (ML) Naxalbari and later joined CPI-Maoists after the merger of two parties.
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Ajith and Ismail were living in a plush apartment in Lotus villa building in Talegaon Dabhade.
“We arrested them from Moraya Hospital in Talegaon Dabhade on Friday. They belong to the banned CPI (Maoist),” said Bhanupratap Barge, Senior Police Inspector, ATS (Pune Unit).
ATS produced the duo before additional Sessions Judge S V Mane in Shivajinagar court on Saturday amid heavy police cover. The police did not allow the mediapersons inside the court room citing “need of secrecy” and security reasons. The two were remanded to ATS custody for seven days.
ATS sources said Ajith, who was among the top Maoist leaders in the country, has been part of various Maoist operations in south India and other states. Ajith and Ganapathy, the general secretary of CPI (Maoist), had jointly signed the merger declaration document between the two parties on May 1, 2014. He is thus considered as a close aide of Ganapathy too.
Police said Ajith and Ismail had been residing in Talegaon Dabhade on rent under a false identity. Owner of the apartment where the duo stayed was not aware of their Maoist connections and got to know about it only from the police.
Primary investigations have revealed that Ajith has been living and moving in and out of Pune for the last one year. Sources said he also suffered from health problems and was undergoing treatment at hospitals in cities like Pune, again using a fake identity. Besides, he was also doing party work like preparing booklets and writing documents like “Against Avakainism.” Ismail was mainly helping Ajith in the party work taking notes in Malyalam, doing translations.
ATS is known to have recovered certain documents and electronic equipment from the duo.
When he was escorted out of the ATS office, Ajith told mediapersons, “I am a member of the CPI Maoist party. I shouldn’t have been arrested like this. My arrest is illegal.”
Investigation is under way to find out why Ajith and Ismail shifted their base to Pune.
It may be recalled that last year, the ATS had arrested a couple, Arun Bhelke and his wife Kanchan, both operatives of the Golden Corridor Committee of the CPI Maoists, from Pune. The couple lived in Kanhe Phata area with fake names. In 2011- 2012, the ATS had arrested Angelo Sontakke, the alleged secretary of the Golden Corridor Committee of the CPI Maoists and their aides, including members of the Pune based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch.