Prosecution seeks conviction under UAPA, maximum sentence for ‘Maoist’ Bhelke

The prosecution on Monday sought conviction and maximum punishment for Arun Bhelke, an alleged operative of the banned CPI-Maoist charged under sections of the Indian Penal code (IPC) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), for “being an active member of a terrorist organisation”.

Bhelke was arrested along with his wife Kanchan Nanaware from Kanhe Phata in Pune rural area by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in September 2014. Bhelke and Nanaware, both from Chandrapur, were alleged to be members of the ‘Golden Corridor Committee’ of CPI-Maoist. They were lodged at Yerwada Central Jail. Nanaware died on January 24, 2021, following prolonged illness.

The trial in this case is going on before Special Judge S R Navandar in Shivajinagar court. Bhelke and Kanchan were initially members of the ‘Deshbhakti Yuva Manch’, an alleged Maoist front in Chandrapur. The couple later allegedly worked actively with armed Maoist cadres in the jungles of Gadchiroli and Gondia. According to the ATS, Bhelke and Nanaware had lived in Pune, Mumbai and Raigad under aliases. The agency claimed that fake PAN cards and Aadhaar cards with different names were recovered from the couple after their arrest.

According to the ATS chargesheet, Bhelke tried to indoctrinate and recruit some youths from a Pune slum into the Maoist movement. The ATS had seized several documents, handwritten papers and electronic material such as a laptop and pen drive from the accused. The agency had claimed that it had retrieved ‘Maoist communications’ from the seized electronic devices.

While arguing before the court on Monday, Special Public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar referred to ‘CPI-Maoist documents’ such Strategic and Tactics of Indian Revolution and Our Work in Urban Areas, which have been seized. Pawar argued that Bhelke was allegedly working as per the ‘cadre policy’ stated in the ‘Maoist strategy documents’.

She cited a letter in which Bhelke allegedly mentioned sending cadres for participating in Maoist activities. Pawar said sending cadres for a banned group is an offence under UAPA.

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Pawar pointed out that Bhelke’s aliases like ‘Spandan’, ‘Rajan’ and Nanaware’s alias ‘Bhoomi’ have appeared in “secret letters” recovered from the accused. Pawar submitted that Bhelke and Nanaware allegedly introduced themselves with other names while taking a room on rent at Kanhe Phata in Pune, where they also ran a small kiosk, selling items like tea, tobacco, biscuits. Pawar alleged that there was a letter in which Bhelke had sought money from the Maoist party for medical treatment of Nanaware.

Pawar claimed that as per the strategy documents of CPI Maoists, Bhelke worked as ‘PR’ (professional revolutionaries) of the banned group in urban areas.

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