Pune ATS claims to have fresh evidence against Arun Bhelke

A witness claims to have seen Maoist training in Chandrapur area; alleged Maoist operative, Arun Bhelke and his wife Kanchan Nanaware’s custody has been extended till September 26

Continuing the allegations in the case of the alleged Maoist couple, the Pune unit of Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has declared to the court that it has a witness who has seen the Maoist training in the forests of Chandrapur area. According to ATS, the youth from Pune has also seen two men who have been missing since 2010, with the main accused Arun Bhanudas Bhelke. Bhelke and his wife Kanchan Ramkrushna Nanaware were produced in the special court, presided by judge N P Dhote on Monday, and their police custody has been extended till September 26.

Arun Bhelke
38-year-old Arun Bhelke has been under police custody from the time he was arrested on September 2. File Pic

Special public prosecutor Vikas Shah, submitted to the court, “The witness with the ATS knows the route of the place in Chandrapur jungle where he was taken by Bhelke for training. Also, one of the documents seized from Bhelke, reads ‘police stations have weapons and we can attack and get weapons from there’.” ATS Inspector Sunil Tambe confirmed the names of the missing persons, identified by the witness as Prashant Kamble (28) from Tadiwala road and Santosh Shelar (20), a resident of Kasewadi. Both the missing complaints were registered at Bund Garden police station.

Opposing police custody, defence lawyer, Wajed Khan, said, “All the evidence given by the ATS is yet to be submitted to the court. They have given peculiar reasons for detaining the duo, such as wanting to know if they are actually husband and wife or not. And if they were involved in Maoist activities, there should have been more arrests in the case from the city, which has not happened yet.” However, after hearing the statement of both lawyers, judge N P Dhote extended the police custody of the duo for another week.

Maoist couple

After the arrest of the couple on September 2, Bhelke and Nanaware were booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on September 15, for their alleged involvement in Maoist activities and anti-national content seized from one of their hideouts. The duo has been allegedly operating for the banned group, Communist Party of India (CPI) Maoist since 2008, and was living under different names in various areas of the state.

About the missing persons
28-year-old Prashant Kamble is a computer operator from Tadiwala Road slum, and had left home in November 2010 on the pretext of going to Mumbai to find work. A few months later, he called his family saying he has joined Naxals and is working with them. He said he had received training in arms and was using his knowledge about computers to help the group. 20-year-old Santosh Shelar is a painter from Kasewadi slums, who left home in November 2010, saying he was going to Mumbai to work and never returned. Shelar is suspected to have joined Maoists and is reported to be hiding in the forest area of Chandrapur. The duo is a member of Pune-based cultural group, Kabir Kala Manch, and has been accused by ATS in a criminal case registered in Mumbai for their alleged Maoist links.

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