Updated: January 25, 2021 8:20:30 pm
Kanchan Nanaware alias Bhoomi (38), an alleged Maoist operative who was arrested along with her husband Arun Bhelke alias Rajan by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in September 2014, passed away at Sassoon General Hospital in Pune following a prolonged heart ailment and related health complications, police said.
Her lawyers had filed for a bail application on medical grounds in sessions court in Pune in September last year, which was rejected and her bail plea in the Bombay High Court was pending for disposal.
A senior police officer told The Sunday Express that Nanaware passed away at Sassoon General Hospital around 4 pm on Sunday. At the time of the couple’s arrest from Pune in 2014, the ATS had recovered a forged PAN card, an Aadhaar card, a stock of medicines and other items from them.
The couple was facing charges under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Lodged in Yerawada Central Prison since her arrest, Nanaware had been suffering from cardiac ailments since her college days. Her lawyer, Advocate Rohan Nahar, told The Sunday Express, “We have come to know that Navaware has passed away today. We had applied for her bail on medical grounds in September last year and had moved the HC after it was rejected by the sessions court. The application was pending for disposal.”
Daughter of a retired bank officer, Nanaware hailed from Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. She came in contact with Bhelke and became an active member of his Deshbhakti Yuva Manch (DYM), which was later branded by police as a front for the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist.
Advocate Parth Shah, another lawyer representing her, said, “She had been admitted in Sassoon hospital on and off since September. She was last admitted on January 16 and has since been there. Following the Bombay High Court’s directives, a committee was formed at the Sassoon hospital to oversee her treatment. She had recently started suffering from lung complications and multiple organ issues. A private doctor had suggested a heart transplant as the only treatment to her worsening condition. We are in touch with the jail authorities for the further formalities.”
According to the police, the couple was first arrested in January 2008 under UAPA in an arms recovery case in Chandrapur. After getting bail in the case, the couple went underground and started operating under the aliases of Rajan and Bhoomi, police said.
Despite her illness, Nanaware travelled in the jungles, looked after first aid, medication of the operatives and completed other tasks given to her by the banned Maoist outfit. Among her roles was procuring medicines from towns for CPI-Maoist cadres, police said. In 2012, the ATS had arrested Angela Sontakke, secretary of the ‘Golden Corridor Committee’ of CPI-Maoist, along with artists of the Pune-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch, under the UAPA.
Investigators believe that after Sontakke’s arrest, Bhelke and Nanaware took over the ‘Golden Corridor Committee’, which aimed at recruiting youth for the banned party from urban areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat. As per the chargesheet filed by the ATS, Bhelke and Nanaware had developed contact with several youngsters from slums in Mumbai and Pune and tried to indoctrinate some of them into the Maoist movement.
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