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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Maharashtra Police get court nod to quiz ‘top Naxal operative’

The 60-year-old woman is lodged in a Mumbai jail in connection with the attack on security personnel in Gadchiroli in 2019, which had killed 16.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
July 30, 2021 4:07:35 am
Nirmala has stage IV cancer. An officer said the cancer has spread to her bones.

The Maharashtra Police on Wednesday received permission from a special court to interrogate Nirmala Uppuganti alias Narmada Akka – alleged to be one of the top operatives of banned organisation CPI (Maoist) – in one of its cases involving alleged Naxal activity.

The 60-year-old woman is lodged in a Mumbai jail in connection with the attack on security personnel in Gadchiroli in 2019, which had killed 16.

On Wednesday, an officer from the Gadchiroli police told the court that it wants to interrogate her in connection with one of the cases pending in the district. “Considering the reasons stated in the report, the investigation officer and his team is allowed to to interrogate the accused in prison,” the court said, granting the officer access to Nirmala in Byculla women’s jail.

Earlier, the police had said that over 60 cases are pending against her across the district. A senior officer from Gadchiroli said: “Since her arrest, we could not seek her custody owing to her ill health. Even now, we have not sought her police custody but intend to interrogate her in prison in connection with one case.”

Nirmala has stage IV cancer. An officer said the cancer has spread to her bones.

Nirmala, along with her husband Sathyanarayana Rani alias Kiran (71), were arrested in June 2019, a month after an IED blast on May 1, 2019 killed 15 security personnel of a quick response team and a civilian in Gadchiroli.

The case was then transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the two, along with six others, were brought to Mumbai to be presented before the special designated NIA court. The eight have been in custody since.

Recently, Sathyanarayana had filed bail and discharge pleas claiming that there was no evidence to show his involvement in the attack. He has added that he suffers from age-related ailments along with other medical issues. The NIA has filed a reply opposing the pleas, which will be heard next month.

So far, one other accused, Gadchiroli resident Kailash Ramchandani, has filed for bail in the case. The court, however, had rejected his plea in March stating that there was prima facie evidence to show that he had supplied electric equipment required for the blast.

In its chargesheet filed in December 2019, the NIA had claimed that the conspiracy for the attack was planned a year in advance as a revenge for the killing of 40 Naxals in 2018. It had alleged that a meeting held in Aarewada jungle was attended by Nirmala and Sathyanarayana along with another wanted accused.

The chargesheet also claimed that Rs 10.32 lakh in cash was found with the couple, which is suspected to be “proceeds of terrorism”. The Maharashtra Police in 2019 had claimed that the two were senior members of the Dandakaranya Special Zone Committee of the banned group.

In the Gadchiroli case, the accused have been charged with offences, including murder and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code as well as under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Explosive Substances Act.

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