Saturday, December 08, 2007

Living next door to Naxals, for 41 days

Saturday December 8 2007 10:03 IST

G Saravanan

MINJUR: Lakshmi, a 50-year-old woman living in the northern suburbs of Chennai, will now think twice before getting tenants. In late October, she had let out a part of her house on Bhajanai Koil Street in Pungamedu locality, to a couple from Andhra Pradesh for a period of 45 days.

On the 41st day, however, it emerged that the couple — Pandu Ranga Reddy and his wife Mari alias Madhavi — were most-wanted Naxalites in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

They had rented the house saying the wife needed regular treatment in Chennai for her recurring stomach pain.

Last Wednesday morning, when the couple took a bus bound for the city, the Andhra Pradesh police intercepted it at Melur and arrested Pandu. The police, however, did not notice Madhavi and she was left behind in the bus.

When she got back home, the village head and the local councillor, P Durai, took her to the police saying her husband had been kidnapped.

After initial inquiry, the police said they could not trace any incident of kidnapping that had taken place on that day, and sent them back.

Around midnight on Wednesday, police surrounded the usually quiet Pungamedu locality. Acting on a tip-off from the Andhra police, they arrested Madhavi and sent her to Puzhal prison.

“It was the first time we had seen such a huge police presence, that too at midnight. People here usually don't let out their houses, but this couple managed because they said they were here for treatment,” Durai told this website's newspaper .

Kanmani, a teenager who lives next to Lakshmi, said, “Their activities were not suspicious, but her husband would go missing for a few days in a week.”

Said Veeran, another resident: “Lakshmi is the only one in the area who can speak Telugu. Maybe that is why she let them stay, even against the wishes of her daughter and son-in-law.” It was because of the language barrier that people there hardly spoke — and got to know the couple

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