Haryana Police have struck upon a Maoist link to controversial Haryana-based leader Rampal, whose ashram in Hisar saw two days of bloody and chaotic scenes before his arrest on Wednesday evening.
In August, Haryana Police arrested Mahaveer Saklani, believed to be a sub-area commander in the banned CPI (Maoist). Saklani was staying at the Barwala ashram of Rampal before he was picked up from Gurgaon in a joint operation with the Special Task Force (STF) of Bihar Police.
Central intelligence sources told HT that Saklani, who hails from East Champaran district in Bihar, had slipped into Nepal a few years ago, but returned to India and settled down at the Barwala ashram.
“A source tipped us off about his return to India. This was passed on to the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), which tracked him to Barwala,” a senior central intelligence official said. Saklani’s earlier involvement with the ashram has been passed on to the Union home ministry.
After the siege of the ashram began on Tuesday, state police questioned Saklani to map details of the ashram’s fortifications as well as tactical capabilities of Rampal’s followers. Saklani is believed to have helped Rampal’s followers fortify the campus during his stay there.
“He instructed them on to how to make petrol bombs and gave them rudimentary training in firearms,” the intelligence official added.
“Saklani was active in the Maoist movement in Bihar’s northern districts before the three major factions came together as CPI (Maoist). He then continued to work in Jharkhand and Bihar before escaping to Nepal,” a senior home ministry official told HT. “Cases have been registered against him since 2001 but we are yet to establish his exact hierarchy within the Maoists.”
According to other intelligence officials, Saklani stayed in the ashram where he told everyone that he was a doctor, even though he lacked any formal training in medicine.
“He was probably a quack with some basic understanding of medicine that he may have picked up as a Maoist commander,” an official said.