Monday, November 23, 2009

Now, a scientist held for Naxal links

Sreenivas Janyala Posted online: Friday , Oct 16, 2009 at 0858 hrs

Hyderabad : A month after the arrest of Kobad Ghandy, authorities have arrested an agricultural scientist who briefly studied for a doctorate degree at Delhi’s PUSA institute, and his wife, for alleged Naxal links. According to authorities, Ravi Sarma, 47, and B Anuradha, 45, are experts in ambushing police convoys and carried out some of the most gruesome killings of officials in the Bihar and Jharkhand region, including some recent ones in Maharashtra.

The arrests come at a time when Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has been stressing that the civil society must stop “romanticising Naxals” or seeing them as “bulwarks against capitalism” but judge them in the context of “mountain of violence”.

Sarma, allegedly a key Maoist leader and ideologue operating under several aliases like Amar, Anand and Mahesh, was arrested near Patna junction on October 10 by an Andhra Pradesh Police team, but slipped from custody while being taken back. Three days later, he along with Anuradha were was re-arrested by the Jharkhand Police. They were sent to jail on Wednesday. “We are going to take them on remand soon,” Hazaribagh SP Pankaj Kamboj told The Indian Express, adding that a laptop and several CDs had been seized from them.

Kamboj said the arrests were a big blow to the Maoists. According to Andhra officials, Sarma and Anuradha virtually ran the Naxal network in Bihar and Jharkhand since 2001. “In the last few years they toured the states and knew the region like the back of their hands. That is why they were so successful,” say officials.

Sarma allegedly first came under the influence of Maoists when as a young agricultural student he decided to take laboratory research to fields. The son of a poor farmer, he was moved by the plight of farmers in his native village in Mahbubnagar district. Scouting for young talent, the Maoists reportedly immediately marked him for recruitment. Sarma was 17. Police officials say one of the first Maoist outfits he came in contact with was the Radical Students’ Union, the student front of the former People’s War Group.

He was first arrested by the Mahbubnagar Police in 1985 while participating in a rally against the oppression by zamindars in his native village. However, at this time his support for the Maoist cause was ideological and it was only when he joined Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University in Hyderabad — now known as Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University — that he was reportedly drawn to the armed struggle. In the late 80s, while doing his B.Sc and M.Sc in agriculture, Sarma joined the PWG and reportedly got involved in carrying out landmine blasts and attacks on officials in Nalgonda, Warangal and Khammam districts.

Around this time, Sarma also fell in love with a Syndicate Bank official, who was as influenced by Maoist ideology. He was a Brahmin, Anuradha was from a poor Scheduled Caste family from Eluru in East Godavari district, and as their families objected, the two got married in 1991 with help from Maoist leaders.

Anuradha first caught the Maoist eye when she led an agitation against discrimination of backward class employees in government institutions. She joined the Andhra Pradesh Chaitanya Mahila Saamakhya, the women’s wing of the CPI(Maoists). She rose quickly to become the president of the organisation.

Anuradha reportedly would become Sarma’s partner in carrying out many military-style operations in Khammam and Warangal, and later in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. He is said to have trained her in handling all kinds of arms and ammunition.

“He was already famous not only among the Maoists but also among security forces and intelligence agencies. He had developed a knack at conducting ambushes against police and security forces,” a former police officer said.

With Andhra Police on their heels, the couple moved to north India. In 1992, Sarma enrolled as a PhD student at the PUSA Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, for a doctorate. Police say it was just a front. “Though we realised he had gone underground, nobody thought he would dare enroll himself as a Ph.D student in Delhi,” an official of the Special Intelligence Branch of the Andhra Police said. “He appears to have seriously pursued studies for about four months, and by the time intelligence agencies got wind of him, he went underground again. This was when he was called upon to take over their military affairs by CPI (Maoists). He was tasked with training Maoist cadre in the use of sophisticated weapons like AK rifles. He also prepared manuals on the use of AK-47s, which were later translated by him into Hindi and Telugu, and later by others into Bengali and Oriya.”
Once he left Delhi, Sarma was made “the chief of military affairs” of the Bihar-Jharkhand Special Area Committee. The Andhra intelligence official said that since then, he is believed to have planned and executed some of the most gruesome killings of police and government officials in the region. “His wife Anuradha has always been his constant companion. She has participated in most of the ambushes.”

She now heads the CPI(Maoists)’s Nari Mukti Sanghatan in Bihar and Jharkhand and according to officials, travels across the two states and West Bengal to get members into the organisation.

A professor of Delhi University who knew Sarma when both were students of Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University said he had met Anuradha two years ago when he went to Andhra Pradesh. “She was very much public then, while he was unavailable.”

with ENS inputs from Patna, Ranchi, Delhi

1 comment:

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