A prime ministers Rural Development (PMRD) Fellow and his companion from Mumbai,a Congressman who was a former Zila Parishad president and a government medical officer are among ten persons booked for aiding Naxalites in Gadchiroli,Maharashtra in connection with two separate incidents.
Six of the 10 have been arrested,two are being traced and police are questioning PMRD Fellow Mahesh Raut from Brahmapuri in Chandrapur district and his partner Harshali Poddar from Virar,Mumbai. Police said they have refrained from arresting Raut and Poddar until theres solid ground to act against them.
According to police,two of the arrested men are Naxals Pramod Pungati and Sunil alias Bandu Hichami of the Gatta dalam. Their questioning made police bring in Raut and Poddar.
The Naxals were held from Koinvarshi village in Etapalli tehsil Friday in a special operation based on inputs provided by dalam member Shivaji alias Chaitu Pada,arrested earlier in connection with the murders of Lloyd Steel vice-president Jaspal Singh Dhillon,mining contractor Mallikarjun Reddy and Surjagarh village police patil Raju Sadmek earlier this month.
Raut and Poddar were spotted by police in Koinvarshi but were let off after they identified themselves as researchers. They were later intercepted past midnight near Aheri while on a motorcycle. Police said one of the arrested Naxals revealed that Raut and Poddar were with them in Koinvarshi as
part of a programme to go into the forest to meet senior Naxal leaders.
Poddar and Raut were have been under the police scanner for some time. Last month,Poddar,while accompanying Raut to the Etapalli hearing of Jindal Steels proposed iron ore mining project near Surjagarh,was seen protesting against the project,police said.
Our men spotted the two at Koinvarshi. They said they were from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and were doing some research work. We let them go. The two Naxals,who were collecting funds in the village,later told us that Poddar and Raut were also going to accompany them to the forest where senior Naxal leaders Narmada and Ramko were waiting. So,we intercepted their bike near Aheri and detained them for questioning, Superintendent of Police Suvez Haq said.
Some CDs of Kabir Kala Manch were found in their possession. They said they like the songs. Offences were registered against them under sections 13 (penal),39 (collecting fund for banned organisation) and 40 (ideological support) of Unlawful Assembly (Prevention) Act. We havent arrested them since we dont have solid evidence of any links to Naxals or their activities, Haq said,adding they told us they are partners.
Collector Abhishek Krishna said,Harshali was protesting loudly against the Jindal project at the Etapalli hearing. But it is for the police to find out more about her.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Gadchiroli range) Ravindra Kadam said,We have reports about Rauts links to some Naxal frontpersons in Chandrapur. We are ascertaining the links.
When his comments were sought,Raut said: Everything being said is false. Its a conspiracy. Harshalis phone was switched off.
In another development,former Gadchiroli ZP president Bandopant Mallelwar and a medical officer were among six persons booked for aiding Naxals when an ambulance of the Porla PHC in West Gadchiroli was found carrying tarpaulin sheets,ten rounds of AK-47,gelatine and medicines.
SP Haq said the vehicle had four persons,three of them working for Mallelwar,and the cargo was to be delivered to a Gatta dalam courier in Halewar village.