A local court on Friday extended the police custody for alleged top Maoist Murali Kannampilly alias Ajith (62) and his aide Ismail Hamza, arrested on May 8 from a Pune suburb, for another seven days after the state’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) argued that they needed to interrogate the duo about people who financed them and helped them with multiple cellphone connections and forged photo IDs.
Earlier, on May 9, the same court had remanded the duo to seven-day police custody, which ended Friday.
The ATS claimed before the court of additional sessions judge D M Deshmukh that Ajith used five different cellphones, each containing a different SIM card registered in different names.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Sanjay Khare described him as a secretary of Communist Party of India (Maoist) and a close aide of the outfit’s general secretary Mupalla Laxman Rao alias Ganapathy.
The prosecution claimed Ajith brought out an online magazine People’s March, which propagated the Maoist ideology, from his hideout inTalegaon Dabhade and emailed its monthly editions to the subscribers across the country. They also claimed he used this medium to “convey messages to his colleagues to carry out attacks”.
ATS ‘secrecy’ upsets judge
ATS’s attempt to “maintain secrecy” irked additional sessions judge D M Deshmukh who rebuked the team for refusing to provide him with a copy of remand report against arrested Maoist suspects Ajith and Hamza.
An ATS team headed by ACP Sanjay Khare and senior police inspector Bhanupratap Barge had reached the court at 12 noon requesting for an extension of police remand of the arrested duo. Since the public prosecutor was yet to arrive, judge Deshmukh asked the investigating officer to show him the remand report so that he could study the case. The officers, the judge claimed, refused to show him the report.
“This is for the first time in my 20 years of service that I am experiencing such a thing. Why couldn’t you show me the remand report when I asked for it? I can understand you can have reservations about showing the report to the accused or his lawyer. But reluctance to show the report to the judge in absence of the public prosecutor is beyond my understanding. This is not the way you behave with a judge,” said Deshmukh.
When the judge asked Ajith if he had any complaints against the police, the accused replied that despite eight days of his arrest, the ATS had not informed him about the charges levelled against him. This angered the judge further.
The matter was finally resolved and the judge proceeded to hearing the arguments after SI Barge apologised.
‘Believing in an ideology not a crime’
V C Jenny, the former wife of arrested Maoist leader Ajith, has said that although he believed in the principles of CPI (Maoist), he was not involved in any crime, not even a petty one, in the last 40 years. She said believing in an ideology should not be a thought as a crime. Jenny, who is a member of Kochi-based Revolutionary Women’s Organisation, C P Rasheed, brother of accused Ismail Hamza, and C A Ajithan, joint convenor of Kochi-based organisation Porattam, attended the remand hearing of the accused duo. Judge Deshmukh later allowed them to meet the accused in police custody. “He (Ajith) is a fellow comrade. We were married for years but later separated. I think it has been 11 years since I last saw him. .. As an Indian citizen, he has a right to believe in an ideology and write about what one believes,” said Jenny.