Maoists are trying to expand their urban footprint in Maharashtra by roping in youngsters from poor sections in slums in big cities like Mumbai and Pune for military tasks and setting up safe havens, according to the police.

Maoists are trying to direct the discontent among youngsters from low-income groups living in urban slum pockets against the government, a senior police officer disclosed while talking to PTI. “In their documents, Naxals have mentioned that their ‘urban network’ is quite strong in cities like Mumbai, Nagpur, Nashik, Pune and Gondia,” said Special IG, anti-naxal operations (Maharashtra) Sandip Patil.

Maoists are targeting youngsters from lower socio-economic groups living in slums for spreading the Maoist ideology and for (engaging them in) military tasks, he added.

“They are trying to rope them in for logistical tasks involving ordnance, arms and ammunition, medical help, and for building safe havens in forest and urban localities,” he said.

Maoists mentioned in their secret documents that their network is quite strong in slum areas in Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Nagpur and Gondia, Mr Patil said.

“They are trying to attract youngsters from lower socioeconomic groups living in slums. They want to capitalise on the negative mentality among these youngsters struck by poverty and domestic problems. They want to turn this sentiment against the government,” the police officer said.

Explaining how Maoists are playing on the psychology of target groups and trying to fish in troubled waters, Mr Patil said their organisations pretend that they are fighting in the interest of the people but their real motive is to spread Maoist ideology.

Queried on the counter-strategy by the police, Mr Patil said such organisations are on the radar of the police and action will certainly be taken against them.