The Surat police have arrested one more person for alleged links with the Naxalite movement in south Gujarat.
The police claimed that Vishwanath Varadarajan Iyer, a retired customs officer who made Nagpur the base for his alleged extremist activities, was a member of the Central Committee of the CPI (ML) Janshakti and was responsible for training left extremists in Kerala forests in 2000. The police said they recovered from him some documents including CPI (ML) literature and compact discs containing details of Naxalite activities.
The police, in their drive in south Gujarat, already made a number of arrests: Niranjan Mahapatra from Pandesara in Surat; K.N. Singh from Bhavnagar; Ramu Pawar from Mumbai; Avinash Kulkarni, Bharat Puwar and Silat Puwar from the Dangs; Maka Chaudhary from Mandvi; Jeram Goswami from Songadh; and Satyam Rao from Andhra Pradesh.
Voluntary organisations working for tribal welfare and human rights activists, however, say Kulkarni had nothing to do with Naxalism and that he had been working for the uplift of poor tribals for the past two decades or so.
Iyer's arrest comes after the detention of tribal activists Bharat Puwar and Silat Puwar, who, the police said, had attended the training session he organised in Kerala. The police also claimed that during interrogation Iyer said trainers in the Kerala forests had come from the Philippines, revealing an international connection to the left extremist movement.
A.K. Singh, Inspector-General, south Gujarat range, said Iyer opted for voluntary retirement way back in 1988 when he was posted in Nagpur and made the Maharashtra city the base of his operations. He worked overground for some time and then went underground.
It is learnt Iyer hails from a family in Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu wedded to classical music.