A week after NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the BJP-led central government transferred the investigation in the Elgaar Parishad case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for “fear of getting exposed”, he came out in support of the activists arrested by the Pune City Police. Pawar said that “speaking against injustice was not Naxalism”.
But in 2011, when the NCP and Congress were in power in Maharashtra, some of the accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, including top Maoist leader Milind Teltumbde and members of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), were booked by the state Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) for their alleged links with banned CPI-Maoist. The accused had allegedly participated in a 15-day Maoist camp in Pune.
And in 2012, the then state home minister, R R Patil, who was a senior NCP leader, had even submitted in the state Legislative Assembly that there was evidence that a Naxal training camp was held in rural areas of Pune, in which top CPI-Maoist leader Milind Teltumbde and other accused (artists of KKM) had participated.
Teltumbde, who is still absconding and some artists of KKM, who are out on bail in the case lodged against them by the ATS in 2011, are among the 23 people booked by the Pune City Police in the Elgaar Parishad case for links with banned CPI-Maoist.
On April 9, 2012, The Indian Express had first reported about this Maoist “study camp”, which was held for 15 days in a village in Khed taluka in Pune in 2010 in the name of a “teachers training camp”.
On April 11, 2012, then BJP MLA Girish Bapat and MNS MLA Bala Nandgaonkar raised questions about this Maoist camp and activities of Naxal organisations in Pune in the Assembly.
NCP MLA Dilip Walse Patil, the then Speaker of the Assembly, had ordered an inquiry into the media reports.
On April 13, 2012, R R Patil had submitted a reply stating that after the arrest of Angela Sontakke, alleged leader of Golden Corridor Committee of CPI-Maoist, from Thane, an offence was lodged in which 15 people (including KKM artists) were booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Patil’s reply, accessed by The Indian Express, stated that the probe into this case had confirmed that a 15-day “teachers training camp” did take place in Bangarwadi in Khed taluka of Pune district, where information regarding Naxal ideology was propagated. Patil also said there was evidence of wanted accused Teltumbde’s presence in this camp.
Meanwhile, in his reply, R R Patil had mentioned the arrest of four alleged Maoist operatives from Dombivali in Thane on March 1, 2012. Patil also mentioned details about steps being taken for controlling Maoist activities in the state and that there was no scope for Naxal outfits in urban areas as residents of cities do not support it.
However, in September 2014, the ATS had arrested alleged Maoist operatives Arun Bhelke and Kanchan Nanavare from Maval taluka of Pune district for allegedly trying to recruit youths from slums for CPI-Maoist. The ATS had said that Bhelke and Nanavare, both from Chandrapur district, were active members of Golden Corridor Committee of CPI-Maoist. According to surrendered Maoist leader Pahadsingh, Bhelke had allegedly taken some of the accused KKM artists to Gadchiroli, where they were given “arms training” with Maoist cadre.
Meanwhile, the NIA moved an application before a special court in Pune on Wednesday asking for transfer of all court documents and seized objects in the Elgaar Parishad case to a special NIA court in Mumbai. The matter has been kept for hearing on February 3.
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