Nagpur, Sept. 3: An Uttarakhand activist facing charges of Maoist links has been held along with a suspected rebel courier near Gadchiroli, weeks after the arrest of a JNU student who police said helped them catch the duo.
Prashant Rahi, 52, a BHU engineering alumnus who is out on bail after spending over three years in Uttarakhand jails for allegedly leading the rebels’ urban network there, was picked up on Sunday with suspected courier Vijay Tirki, Maharashtra police said.
Rahi had been earlier held months after rights activist and doctor Binayak Sen was arrested for alleged links with Maoists in Chhattisgarh.
This time, Rahi and Tirki were picked up from Gondia near Gadchiroli with police claiming Rai, also a freelance journalist, was on way to meet a senior Maoist leader in the Abujh Marh area of neighbouring Chhattisgarh. Both have been remanded in 14 days’ police custody.
The police said they had recovered important documents from Rahi, but didn’t divulge the details.
An Uttarakhand police team is on its way to Gadchiroli to secure Rahi’s custody in connection with the cases there.
Police sources said the interrogation of Hem Mishra, the JNU student picked up from Gadchiroli on August 22, had led them to Rahi.
The police claim Mishra and Rahi were tasked with carrying some information and messages to a senior Maoist leader in Abujh Marh, and the material seized from the two — including an encrypted chip from Mishra — would yield vital clues.
Rahi, originally A.B. Sanglikar from Nashik, had spent over three and a half years in prisons in Uttarakhand after being arrested in 2007. He claims he has been falsely implicated in those cases. His wife Chandrakala was also arrested and released in 2011 on bail along with her husband.
Rahi studied at Mumbai’s St Stanislaus School in Bandra, followed by Ruia College in Matunga.
He did his engineering at the Benaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1977 where he is reported to have briefly met rights activist Sen and was inspired by his work in impoverished villages.
Rahi was earlier closely associated with the struggle against the Tehri dam and worked as a journalist with at least two newspapers. He had alleged torture by Uttarakhand police.
Today, his Mumbai-based daughter Shikha Rahi claimed that as her father’s trial in an Uttarakhand court was nearing completion and he was expected to be cleared of all charges, the police have caught him in a new case.
She said since his release in August 2011, her father had been working for the release of “political prisoners” in several states.