Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Maoist leader Kishenji's deputy arrested in Kolkata

NDTV Correspondent, Wednesday March 3, 2010, Kolkata

In their biggest breakthrough against the Maoists so far, the West Bengal Police have arrested Venkateshwar Reddy, a top leader in the Maoist hierarchy.

Believed to be the right hand of Maoist leader Kishenji, he was arrested in a joint operation by the West Bengal Police and CID in Kolkata on Tuesday last night.

Also known as Telugu Deepak, he will be produced in a Kolkata court on Wednesday.

This is the first-ever arrest of a member of the Maoist organisation's military unit.

Telugu Deepak is the chief of the Maoists' military operations across three states of Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand. He is also known to be an expert in handling explosives.

Sources say Telugu Deepak often posed as Kishenji's double and had even learnt to speak like him to throw the police off track.

Telugu Deepak's arrest is the first major success for the Bengal police since the Maoist upsurge in Lalgarh. Deepak is believed to be the mastermind of the Shilda attack last month when Maoists ambushed the police camp in West Midnapore district and gunned down 24 personnel.

But his arrest has sent alarm bells ringing in the intelligence and security establishments as it seems to have confirmed their worst fears that the Maoists have managed to infiltrate Bengal's capital itself.

They now believe Maoists have hideouts in Kolkata and hope to uncover them with Deepak's help.

The Maoist sphere of influence has so far been thought to be spread over Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore.

The arrest of Kishenji's deputy and the beheading of two people by Maoists in Munger come as talks between the Centre and the Maoists failed to take off. (Read & Watch: Again, cop executed Taliban-style by Naxals)

The Maoists had recently offered a 72-day ceasefire provided the Centre stops its anti Naxal operations.

But the Union Home Minister made it clear that there can be no conditions for talks and that the Maoists must abjure violence for talks to begin.

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