Pune: The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad, which nabbed suspected Naxals from a railway station here two days ago, had never thought that there would be as many as 10 of them hiding out in the district.
"We have been given inputs by the West Bengal security officials that three to five naxals from there had taken refuge in Maharashtra and could be living near Pune. With this info, the ATS Pune unit had been put on the job," said an ATS official today.
"As we started working on it, we learnt that there could be more... For last one month, we had been continuously working to track them down," he added.
At some point, the alleged Naxals too got wind of the ATS`s operation and they were about to flee Pune area, the official said.
"At the right time, we learnt about their plan and arrested them from Pune railway station premises. They were to escape to West Bengal," the official added.
"It was shocking to learn that there were not just three to five, but 10 naxals who had taken refuge here, which is alarming. All of them worked as casual labourers," the official said.
The arrested persons were allegedly associated with Sidhu-Kanhu naxal group of West Bengal and hailed from West Midnapore district.
All the 10, booked under relevant sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Arms Act, were hiding out in an industrial area in Shirur in the district.
Local court has remanded them to ATS`s custody till May 23.
One of the alleged Naxals, Sushanto Mahato (36), a commerce graduate, landed in Shirur one-and-half years ago. He provided daily labourers to factories in the area.
Others came to Shirur around three months ago, according to the ATS.
In the last three weeks, the ATS arrested 16 suspected Naxals from Maharashtra -- 14 were held from Pune district alone, while one each was apprehended from Nashik and Thane.