The Gadchiroli Police confirmed the arrest of senior Naxal leaders Narmada and her husband Kiran for their alleged role in last month’s IED blast in which 15 security personnel and one civilian were killed. The arrest was made on Tuesday at Sironcha, the tahsil town at the southernmost tip of Gadchiroli district adjoining Telangana’s Adilabad district.
Superintendent of Police Shailesh Balkawde told The Indian Express, “We intercepted them in Sironcha town on Monday evening while they were returning from Hyderabad. We have put them under arrest on Tuesday night.”
Narmada and Kiran had gone to Hyderabad as the former, who is suffering from cancer, needed chemotherapy.
“We have been constantly tracking her movements since past seven to eight months. We finally managed to arrest her after a well-coordinated operation in concert with the Telangana police,” Balkawde said.
Balkawde added that Narmada was surprised and also a “bit scared” when she was intercepted. Narmada is named in 65 offences in Gadchiroli, including murders, arson, ambushes and encounters, he said.
The police are also probing the trail of Narmada’s movements from Gadchiroli’s forest to Hyderabad and antecedents of all involved in helping her.
Narmada is now stated to be 58-year old and had been largely immobile die to trailing health. She is said to be suffering from breast cancer. Earlier, Kiran’s age was put at 57 by sources in the police but a press note issued by Gadchiroli police on Wednesday said he was 70-year old.
A hardcore Maoist, Narmada was offered the option to surrender since it would have meant a lot of inside information coming to the police, sources said. She was told that by surrendering she would not have to go to jail and that the police would take care of her treatment, they further said. She, however, refused to bite the police bait. The officials gave her 24 hours to rethink her “no”. With her remaining steadfast on her decision, the police went ahead with the arrest formalities, sources said.
She was asked about the setback the party received last year when 40 of its cadres were killed in a police ambush in Etapalli tahsil. She replied saying that losses and gains are part of the war. She further told that some recruits from South Bastar had been brought in to fill the void.
The arrest of Narmada, though, is a big achievement for Gadchiroli police, her failing health may put a lot of constraints on how much they could pressure her in extracting confessions and information.
Narmada was drawn into the Naxal movement in Srikakulam in undivided Andhra Pradesh when she was a student. She eventually joined Peoples War Group (PWG) in 1982. She was posted in Gadchiroli in 1995 and has since been active in what is known west Dandakaranya (DK) sub-zone of CPI (Maoist) covering Gadchiroli and Gondia districts. She was made in-charge of west DK after the death of her predecessor Shrikant in 2012.