Other States

Businessmen with Maoist links held in Chhattisgarh

On Friday, the Chhattisgarh police arrested Dharmendra Chopra, an eminent businessman, near the Raipur airport as he was rushing to catch a flight to Delhi.

Thereafter the police claimed that a “massive urban network” of Maoists was detected. Chopra and his nephew Neeraj, who was arrested the previous day, were allegedly looking after the financial and logistics interests of the Maoists in the State.

The police said they were facilitating supplies of consumables to the Maoists, delivering lakhs of rupees to other States to fund purchase of weapons and allegedly “fixing deals” between mining companies and Maoist leaders. Interestingly, Dharmendra Chopra was arrested while he was travelling in the vehicle of Kanker MP Sohan Potai.

Chopra’s access to political parties and the Maoists was an open secret in Chhattisgarh. Several police officers told The Hindu on many occasions that Chopra was connected to the BJP brass and the Maoists. However, they never disclosed any evidence because of his connections across party lines.

Chopra used to boast about his connections to the Maoists. “Earlier, they [Maoists] used to give me money to deliver goods. I used to deliver consumables and adjust with the amount like other businessmen in the area,” he told The Hindu earlier. However, he said, he stopped supplying goods to the rebels and moved to Raipur from his home town of Bhanupratappur in north Bastar soon after they threatened him.

Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence) Mukesh Gupta said the administration wanted to send out a message to Maoist sympathisers through these arrests.

“We will break this nexus that has become another power structure controlling mining or local politics to virtually everything in rural areas… We will probe the nature of wealth growth and find out the source,” he said.

However, Mr Gupta was tight-lipped, asked whether Chopra’s political clout had prevented the police from arresting the prominent members of Chhattisgarh’s business community earlier. “There was absolutely no political pressure and no one called me regarding these arrests,” he said.

Mr. Potai did not deny that he knew Chopra. “I know him well and interact with his family. I visited his house earlier. But every one [in Bhanupratappur] knows him, so you can’t single me out. However, I do not know if he was arrested in my vehicle as I reached the airport and left Raipur,” Mr Potai told The Hindu on the phone from New Delhi where he is attending the BJP’s two-day national council meeting.

He also objected to the manner in which another accused, Sukhnath Nureti from Purundi, was arrested.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 3:34:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/businessmen-with-maoist-links-held-in-chhattisgarh/article5605740.ece

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