When officers of the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) raided the Dombivli residence of 63-year-old alleged Naxal Asseemkumar Bhattacharya, little did they know they had busted a key military supply chain of CPI (Maoist). The trail took the agency to an arms manufacturing workshop in Neral, which used to supply arms to the Maoists in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
“From Bhattacharya’s two workshops, the parts would be either picked up by a person named Kasturi alias Ramkrishna, or they would be sent to the Naxals in Raipur through a transport company located in Crawford Market,” a senior official of the police’s anti-Naxal operation (ANO) team said.
After the ATS raid, which was based on inputs from the Andhra Pradesh intelligence bureau, it was found that Bhattacharya supplied spares for rocket launchers, and that his house was also used as medical shelter for Naxals who had suffered injuries in battle with security forces.
Rocket launchers have become a real threat to security forces fighting Naxals and their easy availability has led to many casualties, say officers combatting them.
During the raid, the ATS recovered Rs23.07 lakh in cash, a laptop, printer, and a pen drive. Also, 13 aluminum pressure plates, iron pipes with threads inside, a rocket-shaped hollow aluminum pipe and eight similar iron pipes were recovered from the unit. These, according to the ATS, are parts of rocket launchers.
Bhattacharya was handed over to the Gadchiroli police after his arrest, and during his interrogation the police realised that he had set up a second workshop in Neral, a few kilometers from Matheran hill station. Here, the parts would be refined indigenously as per the requirement.
“He used to dismantle the parts and arrange them as if they were ordinary pipes, but when assembled properly, they would become launchers,” the ANO officer said.
Bhattacharya, a mechanical draughtsman, had been staying in Dombivli since 30 years. The police say he is a member of the central technical committee (CTC) of the Naxals, and also belongs to Korchi Dalam group in Gadchiroli.