Shreya Roy Chowdhury & Soumittra S Bose, TNN | Aug 25, 2013,
Police said that the trio, from whom a microchip and crucial documents have been recovered, was working as Naxal couriers at the behest of a top cadre. The other two have been identified as Pandu Narote and Mahesh Teerki. The three have been remanded to police custody for 10 days. The Facebook profile of Mishra shows him as a “believer in Leninist-Marxist and Maoist views”.
The arrest of Mishra, who has completed his masters in mass communication from JNU, once again underlined the reach of the Naxals in urban areas. Police said that Mishra, a native of Almora inUttarakhand, had the microchip and a letter meant to be delivered to top woman cadre Narmada akka, is a divisional committee member. Police have also come across some sensitive mobile clips which they claim were messages from the Naxals to the cadres in city areas.
In his interrogation, Mishra told Gadchiroli police that he was not a student of JNU. “However, he claimed to be residing in a JNU hostel,” said Mohd Suvez Haque, the SP of Gadchiroli.
TOI learns that Mishra was a member of JNU’s Democratic Students’ Union (DSU). According to fellow DSU member, Bono, Mishra had a “problem in his hand” which required surgery. He was heading for Prakash Amte‘s hospital in Hemalkasa for it. “We were told that he was on the way to the hospital when he was picked up. We were not being able to contact him for the last three-four days and we were told by the local journalists what had happened. It’s a sensitive area. Otherwise, they can’t possibly have any real case against him. He’s just a student,” said Bono.
Morewada, where Mishra was picked up, is around 140 kms from Hemalkasa. “Mishra did not tell us about any medical problem nor did he mention Amte,” said Haque.
Haque said that the trio was spotted moving around mysteriously in Morewada. “When caught, Mishra had the microchip deceptively wrapped in a piece of paper which he had in his pocket. The materials recovered from Mishra are leading us to several crucial links and soon another major operation may follow,” said Haque.
Based on the information, the SP did not rule out the possibility of flushing out some top Naxal cadres from their hideouts soon. “The three has specifically revealed that they were working for Narmada. Narote and Teerki are also ready to repeat their statements in court,” added Haque. “We are also investigating into Mishra’s JNU connections as well as if Naxals had made any inroads into the university.”
Narote and Teerki have no previous records and reside in Morewada. “Narmada had asked them to bring Mishra to her,” said Haque.
DIG Ravindra Kadam (Naxal range) said the Naxal journal ‘Our Urban Perspective’ clearly revealed how they were planning to expand into towns and cities. “Students, unemployed youths and marginalized section of the society were in their radar,” he said.
A social networking site was flooded with messages supporting Mishra whom was being described as an “activist championing the cause of the poor and downtrodden”. The Revolutionary Democratic Front, a so-called rightist body, has condemned the arrest of Mishra.
In 2011, the state Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had nabbed Mumbai-based Sudhir Dhawale in Wardha where he had come to attend a symposium. Dhawale had been conducting his activities from his wife’s official nursing quarters at Byculla’s Central Railway hospital in Mumbai. In 2007, the ATS had nabbed two top cadres from Govandi in Mumbai _ Vernon Gonsalves and Shridhar Shrinivasan. Naxal think-tank Kobad Ghandy was nabbed from Delhi in 2009. While Gonsalves has been released, the other two are still in jail.
Earlier this year, Gadchiroli police had rounded up one Mahesh Raut and Harshala Potdar under suspicion for being Naxal sympathisers. While Raut was from Brahmapuri in Chandrapur district, Potdar hailed from Virar near Mumbai. The duo claimed to be students doing research in Gadchiroli under fellowship obtained through Prime Minister Gram Vikas Yojana.
About Hem Mishra:
Is a student of Centre for Chinese and South East Asian Studies in New Delhi
A second year student in BA Chinese but “deregistered” this year
Had collected a diploma in engineering before coming to JNU
Member of Democratic Students’ Union in JNU
Cultural activist and sings, performs in concerts regularly