The militants play to the sympathies of students in order to recruit potential helpers, Indian officials say.
The Indian government is worried about the expanding presence of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the national capital, following the arrests of two insurgents in New Delhi in one month.
Police nabbed suspected Maoist explosives expert Shiv Kumar on June 7th after receiving specific intelligence that he was in Delhi on a visit from Jharkhand. He was cornered in a bus station and gave up without a fight, Delhi Police deputy commissioner Sanjay Kumar Jain told Khabar South Asia.
Kumar, also known as "Shiva", is known to have been involved in an ambush on security forces in the Dhardhariya forest in Jharkhand in May 2011 in which 11 officers were killed and 50 others injured.
D K Pandey, inspector-general of police in charge of anti-Maoist operations, said the 27-year-old was articulate in Marxist-Leninist theory and proficient in the use of landmines, and had participated in more than 200 raids since joining the Maoists in 2008.
He is the second fighter of the underground guerrilla army, whose operations span a vast slice of eastern and middle India, to be arrested in less than four weeks.
Pradeep Kumar Singh, 42, arrested on May 10th, was active in more than four states. He has been with the movement since its earliest days.
In October 2000, Pradeep led an ambush that killed the highest ranking police officer in Jharkhand's Lohardaga district, Superintendent of Police Ajay Kumar Singh. After that he was on the move in several states, with authorities hot on his trail.
Insurgents seek to recruit students
Mulappally Ramachandran, the central minister of state for Home Affairs, told Khabar that Maoist operatives have goals in the Indian capital beyond perpetrating attacks.
"They are not interested in carrying out explosions here. There are two aspects to their dealings in Delhi. Apart from the usual fund collection and deal making for weapons, they are also widening their intellectual support base in the universities," he said.
He said the militants seek to gain support by highlighting issues that arouse sympathy among students and academics.
"The Maoists project themselves as defenders of human rights of the tribal communities living in the forests of the states in which they are involved. They also claim to be resisting the iron ore mining companies. Their propaganda is designed to generate pity for the tribals among left-wing intellectuals who dominate the universities of Delhi," Ramachandran said.
"So, when they visit the capital on work, they are provided safe houses. Other times, they organise seminars, hold brainstorming sessions with teachers and students and also collect funds through their network. This is happening right under our noses and so we are determined to put an end to it," he added.
Vigilance needed, officials say
On October 4th, 2011, a 36-year-old school superintendent, Soni Sodi, was nabbed in New Delhi. She was wanted in connection with money transfers that occurred after an extortion bid by the insurgents. At the time of her arrest it was reported that Sodi was active in supplying food and essential commodities to the rebels as well as acting as their intermediary.
Earlier, her 25-year-old nephew, Lingaram Kodopi, was arrested in his village in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh state. He too was charged with being a Maoist sympathiser.
The same month, the Anti-Terrorist Squad busted two "sleeper cells" in Delhi – one in Punjabi Bagh and the other in Shakarpur.
Indian officials say vigilance is needed in order to identify support networks for the rebels and prevent them from carrying out attacks.
"The recent arrests have proved that the government's suspicions were grounded on fact. We will be watching out for more Maoist modules in the future," Minister Ramachandran told Khabar.
Editors' note: Khabar South Asia incorrectly reported that human rights activist Kavita Srivastava was detained by police in connection with an investigation into Maoist support networks. We apologize for the error.