In a top-secret operation, eight activists of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), including two members of its central committee and polit bureau, were arrested by the Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh police in Kanpur on Monday.

A half-truckload of printed material, a number of CDs, a pen drive, Rs. 8.16 lakh in cash and a fake driving licence were seized from them, Director-General of Police Karamveer Singh, told journalists here.

Among the arrested is Balraj alias B.R. alias Arvind, head of the northern regional bureau of the CPI (Maoist) and Central Committee member and associate of Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy. Mr. Singh said Balraj’s name surfaced in Kobad Ghandy’s disclosure statement following his arrest in Maharashtra in September 2009. He was involved in naxal violence in other States.

The others arrested are Banshidhar alias Chintan Da, another polit bureau member; Naveen Prasad Singh, Ambrish, Deepak Ram, Shivraj Singh alias Arjun, Rajendra Kumar Phulara alias Arvind and Kripa Shankar alias Manoj. A Ph.D and M.Phil. holder from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Chintan had spent three years in jail, the DGP said. Both he and Balraj, a B.Sc. graduate, belong to Bihar.

On Sunday, three other suspected activists, Vishwa Vijay, Seema Srivastava and Asha Munda were arrested in Allahabad and Gorakhpur.

The DGP said the CPI (Maoist) had been spreading its network in Uttar Pradesh and had obtained feedback about the activities of its members a couple of months ago. Asked how the arrests were made in Kanpur considering that naxalites were generally active in rural areas, Mr. Singh said the eight had come there to attend a meeting and collect the printed material.

According to the DGP, the Maoists divided the country into regional bureaus for their activities. The northern bureau comprised northern (uttar) Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand (called the “3Us”), Haryana, Punjab and the Jammu region. He said Uttar Pradesh was divided into two parts — the southeast comprising Mirzapur, Chandauli and Sonebhadra; and the rest of the State.

Mr. Singh said the banned literature seized from the arrested persons had evidence, including detailed maps, of the violence and raids on police lines in Bihar. “Had their network not been smashed, violence would have been replicated in Uttar Pradesh.”

K. Srinivas Reddy reports from Hyderabad

Coinciding with the coordinated operations launched against the Maoists in all the Left Wing Extremist affected States in the country, Police forces dealt yet another blow to the rebels, when they raided Maoist dens at different places in Uttar Pradesh and arrested 11 Maoist leaders including two Central Committee members two days ago.

The top-secret operation, still sought to be kept under the wraps, comes close on heels of the Maoist party expressing concern over the continuing arrests or killings of top rung Maoist leaders. The arrests are extremely significant, as the interrogation of the Maoist leaders has thrown much light on the rebel activity across all the States. More important was the revelation of the strengthening of the Maoist activity in Uttar Pradesh, which was hitherto believed to be ‘not much affected' by the Left Wing Extremism.

Sources were disinclined to disclose how the raids were organised but indicated that the simultaneous raids took place on the information forwarded by their colleagues in Andhra Pradesh.

The arrested include Balraj alias Arvind, a member of the Central Committee (CC), the Polit Bureau (PB) and in-charge of the North Regional Bureau (NRB) and Banshidhar alias Chintan Da, another member of the Central Committee and in charge of the 3U Committee (Uttar Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand).

The North Regional Bureau (NRB) of the Maoists oversees the revolutionary movement in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and 3U areas.

Banshidhar, who has a doctorate in social sciences from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was released from a jail in Bihar some three months ago and had gone underground again. He was earlier arrested in 2006. Banshidar, who goes by the party name of Chintan Da, is such an important leader of the CPI (Maoist) that the party had decided to waive the rule of not taking any arrested leader into the party fold again without keeping him under observation for at least one year. Apart from being inducted into the all powerful CC, he was also made incharge of the 3U committee.

Sources disclosed that the other arrested naxal leaders were: three members of the Uttar Pradesh State Organising Committee (UP-SOC), three Zonal Committee members of Uttar Pradesh and the remaining four were very important couriers for the party.

Police managed to seize many documents which could reveal the strategies of the Maoist party in the wake of the all-out offensive launched by different states under the code name - Operation Green Hunt. The interrogation of the arrested Maoists is continuing and police officials were too stunned to realise that though the Maoists were not resorting to violence in Uttar Pradesh, their organisational activity had spread wide in towns like Allahabad, Varnasi, Kanpur, Lucknow and Gorakhpur.

Balraj alias Arvind hails from Bihar and was a top leader of the CPI-ML (Second CC) which merged with the Maoist Communist Centre of India in 2003. He is stated to have played a crucial role in re-unification of the revolutionaries which saw the merger of the MCCI with CPI-ML People's War (PW) in 2004. Though not known to be a military strategist, Balraj was popular for his strong ideological base, while Banshidhar was believed to be involved in planning out major strikes against security forces.

More In: National | News