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ATS gets custody of Arun Bhelke till Sept 26, finds ‘witness’ against him

‘He took youths from Pune slums to Gadchiroli jungles for Naxal training’.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
September 23, 2014 3:03:37 am
Arun Bhelke was arrested on September 2. Arun Bhelke was arrested on September 2.

The State Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) claims to have got a “witness” who knows how alleged Maoist Arun Bhelke “took youngsters from slums in Pune to the jungles in Gadchiroli for Naxal training”. The “witness”, says the ATS, is one of the youths who was allegedly indoctrinated in Naxal ideology by Bhelke but did not go for the training.

The ATS team comprising Assistant Commissioner Shantaram Tayade and Inspector Sunil Tambe Monday produced Bhelke and his wife Kanchan Nanaware before the special court of Judge N P Dhote. It sought an extension of their custody by seven days for further investigation.

The judge extended their custody till September 26.

Additional public prosecutor Vikas Shah told the court that the couple were instigating youngsters from Pune to join the Maoist movement.

“Investigations have revealed they took youths from city slums to the jungles in Gadchiroli for Naxal training. These youths are missing. A missing report has also been registered with the police. Custody of the accused is needed to identify the place in the jungle where the Maoist training was imparted…” said Shah.

The ATS also told the court they had found a handwritten note in possession of the alleged Maoist couple, which mentioned their plan to attack police stations and loot armoury. The officers said they wanted to probe this note further to understand the conspiracy.

The ATS had arrested Bhelke and Kanchan from Pune on September 2.

Originally from Chandrapur and alleged operatives of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoists, they have been booked under sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) along with charges of forgery and cheating as fake PAN and

Aadhaar cards were recovered from them. The ATS team had also found 42 CDs meant for Naxal training, Maoist literature, documents in “code language of Maoists”, a huge stock of medicines, a laptop, four cellphones and Rs 90,530 in cash from their possession.

Defence counsel Wajed Khan Bidkar and Tausif Shaikh argued that Bhelke and Kanchan had been in the custody of ATS since their arrest.

“ATS has not been able to make any fresh arrest during this time. ATS is only twisting the details of the recovered items for seeking further custody. ATS has no evidence to prove that the couple has links with Maoists. Besides, Kanchan is a heart patient. So, custody of the couple should not be extended,” said Khan.

Judge Dhote, however, extended their custody by four days.

Meanwhile, it may be recalled that two youths, Santosh Shelar from Kasewadi slums and Prashant Kamble from Tadiwala road slums, both associated with the cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) who have been missing since 2011, are suspected to have joined the CPI-Maoists in Gadchiroli.

The ATS claims that Bhelke took these youths to the jungles for training. Investigators believe Bhelke indoctrinated a number of youths with Maoist ideology, but one of them who did not go with him for Naxal training in the jungles has now become a witness in the case.

Also, a Maoist who surrendered to the Yavatmal police in 2013 citing medical reasons, mentioned in his statement that Bhelke carried the KKM artistes to the jungles for Maoist training in 2012 and later got them back to the city.

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