Seven alleged Manipuri militants, including three women, were rounded up from a Jadavpur hideout early on Thursday, following a joint raid by the South 24-Parganas police and the Military Intelligence.
All seven, lodged in the lock-up of Jadavpur police station, are reportedly members of the Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kanleipak (Prepak), headed by Shanti, alias Chinglemba.
Army insiders said the seven had been camping in the city for the past two days, primarily to coordinate with the outfits overseas donors. Another reason for their coming down to Calcutta was to escape the flush-out operations being mounted by the army in Manipur, said an officer.
The first-floor flat in Bapuji Nagar, from where the seven were picked up, was rented by 27-year-old Maisnam German Singh. He introduced himself to the landlord, Kartick Chakraborty, as a computer professional and paid him Rs 3,000 every month.
This is the second time in the past eight months that Prepak members have been arrested in the city. On April 9, two leaders of the outfit Seshamba, alias Rakesh Singh, and R.K. Dhanshwar, alias Changlamba were picked up from a Regent Park neighbourhood. Two others, Y. Sanjay Singh and Ibobi Singh, who managed to dodge the police, were booked after they landed at Imphal airport.
On both occasions, Prepak members sought refuge in localities that fall in chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjees Assembly constituency Jadavpur.
Insiders in the Military Intelligence suggested that the Prepak members chose the Jadavpur area, as there is a heavy presence of Northeast students there, especially in the Bapuji Nagar-Sulekha-Bagha Jatin belt. They passed themselves off as students, raising no suspicion, said an officer.
Group captain R.K. Das, the chief public relations officer of the army, said: German Singh was the only constant face around. His companions changed every month, suggesting that the outfit was trying to set up a base here to hold meetings and chalk out strategies. Of late, they might have been liaising with their donors abroad.
The police-military team raided the flat around 3.30am, while the seven were asleep. Apart from party literature and leaflets, the men in uniform seized eight mobile phones, with Calcutta and Manipur numbers, a video camera and a few CDs.
We have informed Manipur police and have asked the central intelligence agencies to look into the case, home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said.
There was nothing unusual in their behaviour. The youths carried themselves well and did not bother about others. Only the leader, German Singh, was often seen speaking over his cellphone for long hours at night, standing on the banks of a pond near the house, said Dipali Sarkar, a local resident.
Intelligence agencies claimed that German Singh and Gunindo Singh, another of those arrested, have a slew of charges against them in Manipur, including waging war against the nation, extortion, and carrying arms.
We have got in touch with the additional director-general of Manipur intelligence branch and the superintendent of West Imphal police. A team from the state will arrive soon, said Praveen Kumar, the South 24-Parganas police superintendent.