Bhelke and his wife Kanchan Nanaware alias Bhoomi, both from Chandrapur district, were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad from Pune in September 2014 on charges of being alleged operatives of the Golden Corridor Committee of banned CPI-Maoist.
Surrendered Naxal Krushna alias Birju Dorpate of Gadchiroli on Wednesday deposed before a special court in Pune as a witness and identified accused Arun Bhelke alias Rajan as a member of the banned CPI-Maoist.
Bhelke and his wife Kanchan Nanaware alias Bhoomi, both from Chandrapur district, were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad from Pune in September 2014 on charges of being alleged operatives of the Golden Corridor Committee of banned CPI-Maoist. The duo were booked under sections of Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and lodged at the Yerwada Central Jail.
Kanchan died on January 24, 2021, following prolonged illness.
In the chargesheet filed against the couple, ATS had attached statements of surrendered Naxal Nirangsai Darbarsingh Madavi alias Gopi, and Krushna.
Krushna appeared before Special Judge S R Navandar on Wednesday and Bhelke was also produced for the hearing in the case. During his chief examination by prosecution lawyer Ujjwala Pawar, Krushna identified Bhelke as “Rajan”. He also identified a photograph of Bhelke’s wife, shown to him before the court.
Krushna said Bhelke and his wife worked with the CPI-Maoist. Krusha said he has seen Bhelke during his meeting in the jungle with Deepak alias Milind Teltumbde, a top CPI-Maoist leader from Maharashtra. Krushna told the court that Rajan had also interacted with him about Naxal work in jungles. Krusha said Bhelke’s wife had been suffering from a heart ailment, so Teltumbde gave them organisational work and recruitment tasks for the Maoist party in urban areas.
Krushna also said that during a meeting with Teltumbde in Khobra Mendha forests, he had seen some persons including “Janaki” and “Samar”. Krushna said Teltumbde introduced them as members of Maoist party working in urban areas.
As per the ATS probe, Janaki and Samar are allegedly the names of Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali, who have been booked along with members of the Kabir Kala Manch in another case registered in Thane, for their alleged links with CPI-Maoist. Sheetal and Sachin are out on bail and have denied all allegations against them in this case.
Krushna said he joined the Naxal movement in 2003. He said Deepak Teltumbde had promoted him as a divisional committee member of company 4 of CPI-Maoist in Tipagad jungle of Gadchiroli. Krushna got married to Maoist cadre Manda, and both of them surrendered before Gadchiroli Police in 2014.
Krushna told the court they had surrendered “to live a better life”. After living in the police headquarters at Gadchiroli for about one-and-a-half years, he later shifted and is now doing “mistry (masanory)” work.
Defence lawyer Rohan Nahar conducted Krushna’s cross-examination of Krushna. Nahar claimed that Krushna never had a meeting with the accused (Bhelke). He claimed that Krushna, a surrendered Naxal, was giving a statement as per the instructions of police. Krusha denied these allegations.
In February last year, surrendered Naxal Gopi had also deposed before the special court as a witness and said Bhelke and his wife are members of CPI-Maoist.
During college days, Bhelke had formed “Deshbhakti Yuva Manch (DYM)” in Chandrapur, which was later branded by the police as a “front” of the CPI-Maoist. Kanchan had also joined DYM and she later married Bhelke.
According to the chargesheet filed by the ATS, Bhelke and Kanchan were part of the Golden Corridor committee of CPI-Maoist and had allegedly developed contact with several youth from the slums of Mumbai and Pune. They had allegedly tried to indoctrinate and recruit some of the youth from Kasewadi slums in Pune into the Maoist movement. The ATS probe revealed that the couple had obtained PAN cards in the name of Aditya Suresh Patil and Sonali Aditya Patil.
Meanwhile, advocate Nahar sought directions from the court for jail authorities to hand over Kanchan’s belongings, including her letters to Arun Bhelke. The next hearing in the case is on March 19.