Gadchiroli police on Wednesday said senior Naxal leaders Narmada and her husband Kiran were arrested from Sironcha, a tehsil town in the southernmost tip of Gadchiroli district adjoining Telangana’s Adilabad district. Earlier, media reports had said that the duo had been held from Hyderabad.
Superintendent of Police Shailesh Balkawde told The Indian Express, “We intercepted them (Narmada and Kiran) in Sironcha town on Monday evening while they were returning from Hyderabad. We put them under arrest on Tuesday night.” Sources, however, maintained that the two Naxal leaders were picked up from Hyderabad and brought to Sironcha.
On Tuesday, Narmada and Kiran two were produced before a local court in Gadchiroli, which sent them to seven-day police remand. Confirming the reports that Rani Sathyanarayana alias Kiran had accompanied Uppuganti Nirmalakumari alias Narmada to Hyderabad where the latter underwent chemotherapy treatment, Balkawde said, “We have been constantly tracking her movements since past seven to eight months. We finally managed to arrest her when they were returning from Hyderabad in a well-coordinated operation along with the Telangana police.”
The police, the SP said, are now investigating the whole trail of Narmada’s movements from Gadchiroli’s forest to Hyderabad, and the antecedents of all involved in helping her.
Sources said, “She had been frequenting Hyderabad for the past seven to eight months. To facilitate her unhindered passage to Hyderabad and back, one of her mediators in a Telangana town, across Sironcha (believed to be Kaleshwaram), had helped her secure an Aadhaar card and a voters identity card.”
Narmada is named in at least 65 serious offences, including murders, arson, ambushes and encounters, in Gadchiroli and Gondia. Stated to be 58 years old, she is reportedly suffering from breast cancer and has become almost immobile. A press note issued by Gadchiroli police Wednesday, meanwhile, said Kiran is 70 years old.
According to sources, police had offered Narmada to surrender and said she would not have to go to jail if she complied. The police, sources said, had also offered to take care of her treatment. She, however, refused to bite the police bait. Police, sources said, gave her 24 hours to rethink. But as she remained steadfast, the police went ahead with the arrest formalities, sources said.
Sources added that when Narmada was questioned about the police ambush in Etapalli tehsil last year that reportedly left 40 Naxal cadres dead, she said losses and gains were a part of the war. She is reported to have told the police that some recruits from south Bastar had been brought in to fill the void.
With Narmada’s arrest, Gadchiroli police were expecting to obtain information on the left-wing extremists in the region, however, her failing health may put lot of constraints on how much they can pressure her in extracting confessions and information.
CPI(Maoist) in-charge of west Dandakaranya since 2012
Narmada was drawn into Naxal movement in Srikakulam in undivided Andhra Pradesh when she was a student. She eventually joined Peoples War Group (PWG) in 1982 and was posted in Gadchiroli in 1995. She has since been active in what is known west Dandakaranya (DK) sub-zone of CPI (Maoist), covering Gadchiroli and Gondia districts. She was made the in-charge of west DK after the death of her predecessor Shrikant in 2012.