In Chandrapur, people remember Arun Bhanudas Bhelke (38) and Kanchan Nanaware (31) as influential youth leaders of the Deshbhakti Yuva Manch (DYM), which was later branded as a “front organisation” of the Maoists. Arrested in Pune by the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) in September 2014, the “Maoist” couple is now lodged in Yerawada jail. The ATS recently filed a chargesheet against them in Shivajinagar court. Background According to the ATS, both Arun and Kanchan are graduates.
Arun’s family lives in a small house in Ambedkar Ward, Ballarsha, in Chandrapur district. His father teaches in a private school, while brother Ajay is an autorickshaw driver and another brother Abhay is a masonry worker. Speaking to The Indian Express, Ajay Bhelke said: “Arun had been fond of singing, oratory since childhood. He did social work, raised voice against injustice through DYM. It is hard to believe he became a Maoist. He left home a few years ago for working in Mumbai, but never returned. He did not contact us. We got to know about his arrest from the media. We did not go to Pune as it needs a lot of money to travel.” Kanchan’s family resides in a plush house in Sarkar Nagar in Chandrapur.
Her father held a senior position in a bank. A family member said she used to remain disturbed as she was suffering from a heart disease. “But she became active after joining DYM during college days. Freedom fighter Bhagat Singh was her ideal… She left home for her movement. We do not maintain any contact with her now. We only focus on the future of her siblings.” A college teacher who knew her said: “Kanchan has a strong willpower and revolutionary thoughts. I still remember her speech in which she said she might not live long because of her illness, but her remaining life is dedicated to the movement.”
Police said Arun allegedly got attracted to Maoist ideology at a young age. He became the president of DYM later. Besides cultural activities and agitations, Arun started the College Katta magazine in 2003, with a tag line, “College kattyavarun krantikade (from college campus to revolution)”. Arun networked with many college students and teachers to write for the magazine sold for Rs 5 per copy.