Updated: September 26, 2015 9:15:12 am
A Central Committee member of the CPI (Maoist), Sridhar Srinivasan alias Vijay alias Vishnu, has died of a heart attack, the Maoist outfit has said in a press statement.
Described as a “brilliant revolutionary intellectual” in Maoist literature, Srinivasan, who died on August 18, was active in Maharashtra’s Mumbai, Pune and Vidarbha regions.
In its statement, CPI (Maoist) spokesperson Abhay said that Srinivasan’s death was a “major blow” as they had “lost an exemplary communist leader”. The Central Committee member carried a cash reward of Rs 60 lakh in Chhattisgarh alone, besides rewards in several other states.
After his death, Milind Teltumde is the only Central Committee member left in Maharashtra, where Maoists are struggling to spread their influence in urban areas.
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Then a student of arts in Mumbai’s Elphinstone College, Srinivasan gave up his studies in 1978-79 and joined “revolutionary” politics. He led student agitations in Mumbai under the banner of Vidharthi Pragati Sanghatana. With trade union leader Dutta Samant, he galvanised workers during the mill workers’ strike in early 80s. He also led guerrilla attacks during the period.
Srinivasan moved to the Vidharbha region in 1990s, where he organised coal mine workers in Chandrapur and Vaniand, and was later made secretary of the Maharashtra state committee of the CPI (Maoist) before being promoted to the Central Committee in 2001.
In 2007, the Maharashtra ATS arrested him with one Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai and he was convicted under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Explosives Substances Act and IPC. After his release in 2013, Srinivasan continued organisational work in the urban areas of Maharashtra.
Maharashtra police said that Srinivasan played a key role in indoctrinating youths like Arun Bhelka from the Deshbhkati Yuva Manch in Chandrapur to join the Maoist movement. Bhelke and his wife Kanchan Nanaware, both known to be members of the CPI (Maoist), were arrested by the ATS in Pune in 2014.
Srinivasan also guided an alleged Maoist Angela Sontakke, who was arrested in Pune with members of the city-based cultural front Kabir Kala Manch in 2011.
The Manch was founded by a Pune artist Amarnath Chandaliya in 2002 for spreading unity and communal harmony through songs and poetry. Chandaliya, who claimed that he left the Manch in 2008 because of his differences with the young artists, reportedly told the ATS that he held a few meetings with “Vijay” at the Empress Garden in Pune and Nariman Point in Mumbai in 2006. He stated that Sudhir Dhawale, editor of Vidrohi magazine, introduced him to “Vijay”.
Dhawale was arrested in January 2011 for his alleged links with Maoists. A Gondia court acquitted him in May 2014.
In his statement to the ATS, Chandaliya reportedly said: “Dhawale said my work is good but it should have a revolutionary base. He said he would arrange my meeting with people having revolutionary thoughts. And in 2006, Dhawale introduced me to a person named Vijay at the Empress Garden…Vijay gave me three issues of People’s March magazine. Later I had a meeting with Vijay at Nariman Point in Mumbai.”
He added: “Vijay said that the system should be changed through armed struggle. He said that armed movement in jungle should get support from intellectuals in cities…Again during meetings at Empress Garden, Vijay said that intellectuals like me can create a good image about this movement among the people. Vijay asked me to meet his aide Iskara…In August 2007, I saw in news that two Maoists were arrested in Mumbai. Their photos appeared in newspapers. One of them was Vijay. It was then I got to know that Vijay is Srinivasan.”
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