Pune Investigation by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) into the arrest of some persons last year for their alleged Naxal links has revealed that the banned outfit Communist Party of India (Maoist) had organised a 15-day camp in Pune in mid-2010.
As per the documents of this case with The Indian Express, seven men and four women participated in the ‘study camp’ called ‘Teachers Training Programme’.
The man who gave his room for the purpose was told that it was a camp for teachers from Pune and Mumbai to study tribal issues. However, during the camp, a top CPI (M) state operative, Milind Telumbde (54) alias Jyotirao alias Bada Deepak, and his wife Angelo Sontakke (42) alias Sadhana alias Rahi alias Iskara, the secretary of CPI (Maoist)’s golden corridor committee, allegedly taught lessons on Maoist ideology and Naxalism to their new party members and potential recruits.
The venue of the camp was a room at the small Kude Burdruk village in Bangarwadi in Khed taluka of Pune district, located about 50 km from the city. The room was of a local farmer, a relative of Dhavala Dhengle alias Pratap (36). Pratap was employed with the vehicle department of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and arrested by ATS on May 12, 2011 for his alleged Naxal links.
A singer and poet, Dhengle was a member of Pune-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch, which was allegedly used by CPI (Maoist) for interacting with city youths and indoctrinating them into Naxal ideology.
Dhengle was present at the camp along with alleged CPI (Maoist) operatives Siddhartha Bhosale, Anuradha Sonule alias Krutika, Nandini Bhagat alias Jenny and Kabir Kala Manch members Ramesh Gaychor, Sheetal Sathe, Sachin Mali, Sagar Gorkhe and Amarnath Chandaliya.
As per Dhengle’s statement to ATS, the camp was meant only for party members. Claiming that he was not CPI (Maoist) member and joined Kabir Kala Manch as an artiste, Dhengle said he was not allowed to attend all the programmes at the camp.
Pune-resident Chandaliya, founder of Kabir Kala Manch, who attended the camp, said in his statement, “Sadhana (Angela) and Jyotirao (Milind) had come to the camp. They explained Maoist ideology to us. They showed us a video named ‘Blazing Trail’ on attacks on police and paramilitary forces.” Chandaliya also said that he left Kabir Kala Manch and cut all contacts with Naxal operatives as he did not believe in their nature of work and ideology.
The farmer who gave his room for the camp said, “The camp was held during July-August 2010. I was told it was a camp for teachers from Mumbai, Pune to study tribal issues. They were carrying laptops and several books. They got up early in the morning, held discussions and studied the entire day. In evening, they would sit together and watch videos. They cooked their own food. I could not understand their work as they spoke in Hindi.”
Meanwhile, the ATS had arrested Angela from Thane in April 2011. Soon, her associates Sushma Ramteke alias Shraddha Gurav, Jenny, Krutika, Jyoti Chorge, Siddhartha Bhosale were arrested from different locations. They were allegedly involved in spreading Naxal ideology and recruiting youngsters from Pune. Naxal literature, letters, money and other items were seized from the suspects. All were booked under sections of Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Eight more, including Milind Teltumbde and six members of Kabir Kala Manch, now believed to have joined CPI (Maoist), were named as accused in this case. They have gone underground.
Dhengle’s statement mentions that Kabir Kala Manch members—Ramesh, Sachin and Sheetal—became full-time members of the party (CPI-Maoist) in May 2010. All three had attended the 15-day camp. Investigators believe that the camp aimed at creating an ideological impression on the newly recruited cadres and potential recruits.
Investigators are also probing the role of absconding suspects in putting up posters at Patrakar Bhavan, SM Joshi Foundation, district collectorate in Pune sometime in third week of last month, demanding unconditional release of seven comrades, including Kobad Ghandy and Angela.
Dhengle’s lawyer Asim Sarode said, “Every criminal should be punished. Violence of any kind shall not be tolerated. But implicating innocent persons in serious offences is wrong. Dhengle has been falsely implicated.”
V D Mishra, DIG (anti naxal operations), said Naxals are strengthening their network in cities like Pune to use the city as a hideout and for medical treatment.