A GRAIN merchant arrested earlier this week has confessed to supplying medicine and other materials to Naxals, said police.
Purshottam Dongre, a resident of Yemli Burrgi village in Gadchiroli, was arrested after the Income Tax department discovered suspicious transactions to the tune of Rs 4.5 crore in his Bank of India account at Aheri tehsil town. The transactions took place after the Centre announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes in November last year.
“We had handed over his papers to the I-T department, which gave us a report that the transactions were suspicious. So we arrested him and found that he had prepared fake receipts and bills for the transactions in the name of 32 people. When we spoke to them all, they refuted Dongre’s claim and said they had transacted no business with him,” said Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh.
When asked if the bank locker papers were connected to the transactions, Deshmukh said, “No. These papers were about different transactions which were on since 2011.The Rs 4.5-crore transactions had happened in the post-demonetisation period and Dongre says that they were connected to his grain business.”
Since Dongre was arrested five days ago, the police have also seized several “handwritten receipts and bills” from his bank locker. “The papers revealed that he had provided the Naxals with various materials such as medicines, electric wires, electronic switches, tarpoline, raincoats etc since 2011. So we have now applied relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Aheri court has extended his police custody till Monday,” added Deshmukh.
When asked what Dongre said about his alleged relationship with Naxals, Deshmukh said, “He is saying that because Naxals were regular visitors to his village, he had to supply them with whatever they demanded and that he had no ideological sympathy for them. But what is clear is that he made a lot of money through his business with Naxals.”
Deshmukh also said Dongre had allegedly been in touch with Naxals before 2011 and had even faced preventive action in 2009. “He was very much on our record for his suspicious activities.”
When asked the name of the Naxal leader Dongre had been in contact with, Deshmukh said, “He is taking names such as Shekhar and Narmada, but his versions are frequently changing.”
There have been reports that the financial situation of the Naxals is dire after the sudden demonetisation move by the Centre, and that Naxals are frantically searching for conduits to exchange demonetised currency in their possession.