The Mumbai police arrested two middle-class men from the eastern suburb of Govandi on Sunday afternoon for alleged links with the Naxal movement.
Two firearms, gelatin sticks and detonators were recovered from Vernon Gonsalves and Srinivasan Vishnu, said a spokesman of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS).
The arrest of the duo brings into focus alleged naxal sympathies among a few of Mumbai's highly-educated, middle-class. In May, the police had similarily arrested Arun Ferreira, a science graduate of elite south Mumbai college St Xavier's and once a trainee Roman Catholic priest. Ferreira is still in police custody, charged with waging war against the state.
Gonsalves and Vishnu will be produced before the Esplanade Metropolitan Magistrate's Court on Monday afternoon. Sunil Deshmukh, ATS inspector with ATS said: "Vernon was found firearms and explosives and has been booked under the Arms Act, Explosives Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act." The ATS has also recovered from Gonsalves' home literature from that indicates his links with the naxal movement in rural Maharashtra, said Deshmukh. A close relative of Vernon, requesting anonymity, told HT that Vernon and his wife Susan Abraham had worked among tribals in Chandrapur area between 1984 and 1994. But Susan came back to Mumbai in 1994 after she gave birth to a son. Vernon, the relative said, then shifted his base to Nashik and had returned back to Mumbai last year. "Vernon was arrested when he went to buy some medicine from a chemist's shop near his house in Mahakali caves at around 1.30 pm on Sunday," said the relative. The Gonsalves family, including his wife, was not informed about Vernon's arrest till 12.30 am on Monday. "A column of policemen in three Qualis jeeps came to the house with a handcuffed Vernon. It was only then that we were informed of his arrest," the relative said. "The cops then went on a rampage searching all possible articles in the house. They finally left with the hard disk of his personal computer. We have been told that he was arrested with firearms. But ATS officials failed quantify their claims," the relative said. His wife Susan was not allowed to call a legal representative and her mobile phone was confiscated. "The first call that Susan was allowed to make was at 7 am on Monday morning," added the relative.
In May, the Hindustan Times ran a nine-part nationwide investigation explaining how armed groups were spreading their influence over the lives of 170 million people across the country sprawling triangle of violence from Kashmir to Manipur to Andhra Pradesh. More than Rs 2,700 crores in development funds meant for extremist-affected districts were not spent in the past financial year.