Tirupur in throes of radical changes
The recent arrest of a Maoist couple in Tirupur has fuelled a concern whether the textile town is becoming vulnerable to the spread of radical Communism. While a revival of Naxalism may seem far-fetched now, trade unions and others watching the town’s transformation over the years feel the denial of democratic and trade union rights and changes in its demography could turn Tirupur into a fertile ground for radical movements. “It has not yet become the hub for Maoist activities. But the circumstances prevailing in the town are in favour of it,” said senior CPI leader K. Subbarayan, who has represented the constituency in the Assembly many times, commenting on arrest of Maoist couple Rupesh and Shyna in the town a few days ago.
Industrialisation and urbanisation have changed the town’s face. Some say it has provided asylum for criminals on the run, who could masquerade as textile workers. “The arrest of Maoists is probably the first incident, even though I have been noticing propaganda material of radical Communists in recent times,” said Mr. Subbarayan. Usury is all-pervasive in the city as the earnings of an ordinary worker are too low for a decent living. “Workers’ settlements lack basic amenities and they live in poor conditions,” Mr. Subbarayan said. According to him, the failure of the State machinery to address the basic issues concerning workers could pave the way for discontent, leading to extremist movements in future. “The authorities turn a blind eye to petitions from ordinary citizen. A lower-level police officer can deny permission to gate-meetings and rallies. When the space for democratic activities is denied, things may go out of control,” said Mr. Subbarayan, who also represented the Coimbatore Lok Sabha Constituency.
Writer M. Gopalakrishnan, whose novel Manarkadigai , probably the first literary work that captures the Tirupur’s transformation, also said there was no evidence so far to suggest that the town was attracting Maoists. He, however, conceded that demographic changes facilitated by the arrival of scores of workers from other States could make it difficult for the police to identify Maoists.
Loss of identity
“Today, workers from other States constitute a major portion of the Tirupur’s workforce. Employers need workers and have no time for screening them or doing background checks. The town has lost its identity and anyone can live here without an identity,” he said. But Tirupur South MLA K. Thangavel, representing the CPI(M), argued that at a time when mobilising ordinary workers was posing a challenge to trade unionists due to demographic changes, it was impossible for the Maoists to recruit cadres. “Workers from other States are outnumbering the locals and we are forced to print pamphlets and other propaganda material in Hindi. The worker is left with little time for other activities,” said Mr. Thangavel.
Maoist leader Roopesh’s close aide arrested
Kozhikode: The Kerala Police on Sunday arrested a close aide of recently-held Maoist leader Roopesh from Payyoli here. The arrested A. Rajeesh, who hails from Thikkody, was instrumental in bringing arms to Roopesh and his team, the police said, adding that his car had been used for such purposes. The Intelligence had been keeping a close watch on him for a long time now. His phone calls too were screened by the agency. It is believed that Rajeesh brought arms, including guns, to Maoists in Kozhikode, Kannur and Waynad forests.
He is being quizzed by the police at CI’s office. It is Rajeesh who helped Anoop, who was arrested along with Roopesh, go hiding in Payyoli. Rajeesh’s arrest happened a day after Maoist ideologue Murali Kannampilly and his aide C.P. Ismail Hamsa were nabbed by the Anti-terorist Squad from Pune. A six-member Maoist gang, including Roopesh and his wife Shyna, were arrested from Coimbatore on Friday. The Kerala Police are taking steps to interrogate the Maoist leader who is at present in the custody of Tamil Nadu Police.
A Rebel Named After Kalidas And as Elusive as a Poet’s Secret
CHENNAI: It has been 13 years since anyone has seen Kalidas. But every police record on the Maoist movement in Tamil Nadu revolves around this man. It is said Kalidas, one of the most wanted men of the state police, oversees the operations of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) in Tamil Nadu. “All we know about this man is hearsay. During various operations against the Left extremist movements, the people we get to interact have spoken about Kalidas. It was often told he was a key person in organising training camps for the new recruits,” says a police officer who had once handled the operations. The latest testimony police have about Kalidas is the accounts allegedly given by a group of Dalit youths who were arrested from Natham Colony in Dharmapuri district last July.
One of them, who was drawn into the extremist movement, is said to have told police that he had sighted Kalidas. Born in Paramakudi, the headquarters of the drought-prone Ramanathapuram district in southern Tamil Nadu, he was last seen by the law enforcement agencies in 2002 when he was granted a conditional bail by a court. Since then, it has been an almost impossible task for the police to get hold of Kalidas. “We may be not able to trace him again, but it is a fact that his activities have been curtailed to a great extent. No major activity by the Left extremist groups has been reported in the state recently,” says a senior police officer when asked why is it a difficult task to trace Kalidas.
Months after Kalidas absconded after getting a conditional bail in 2002, his wife, named Sathya, was arrested under the draconian Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act and was detained for several months. It is alleged that Sathya was arrested to force Kalidas come out of hiding, but the move apparently failed. Sathya, after release got separated from Kalidas. Following the arrest of Roopesh, who was in-charge of the operations of the CPI (Maoist) in Kerala, it is buzzed in the police circles that the police are either close in nabbing Kalidas or he might have slipped from the police grip. The Central Committee of CPI (Maoist), which manages the resources, is dominated by the persons from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.