More than two years after he led a 100-strong gang of heavily armed Maoists in a daring daylight attack on a fortified CRPF camp in Sialda in West Midnapore district of West Bengal, 27-year-old Syam Saran Tudu sat in a Coimbatore police station on Sunday.
One of the most wanted Maoists, Tudu nearly escaped on Saturday as he got wind of the police activity.
"There was some leak and he tried to escape. But all credit to Tamil Nadu police, they has surrounded the small tenements where Tudu used to live with 19 others and nabbed him giving no chance for him to escape," a senior police official part of the operation said.
He was picked up in a late night operation, at 10pm or so, from the residential quarters in the industrial area. This place was surrounded by police in a quiet operation.
Since Saturday night the maoist was kept at a local police station, Peelemedu, where police officials from Tamil Nadu and West Bengal questioned him.
"He is cooperating," said an official who was among those who grilled the maoist.
On the afternoon of February 15, 2010, Tudu led the gang of naxals, who went in firing into the camp from all directions and hurled hand grenades catching the dazed CRPF personnel completely unawares. Most were resting and relaxed and too stunned to react.
Twenty four CRPF personnel lost their lives in this attack on the CRPF camp located in the midst of bustling market area of Sialda in West Midnapore district.
As the police waited to present their prized catch before magistrate, for transit remand to take him to West Bengal, preliminary inquiries were on to ferret out if he had local help in Coimbatore.
"Yes, Tudu has been arrested. The arrest was made by a team from West Bengal that sought our help and cooperation that is being extended to them," said AK Vishwanathan, Coimbatore city commissioner of police on Sunday.
"We are investigating the circumstances in which the maoist leader could find refuge in the city and people who may have helped him," the commissioner told Hindustan Times.
A police team from West Bengal nabbed Tudu with the help of Tamil Nadu police from the residential premises he shares with co workers at a local iron works company, Nithyashri Castings Pvt Ltd for the past one year or so. He joined the company as a coolie last year and later became a machine operator.
Before he came to Tamil Nadu, the maoist is said to have spent time in and around in West Bengal.
Tudu is believed to have come to Coimbatore in April 2012 and sought employment with this company. In fact, the labour force at many of the manufacturing units of Coimbatore is dominated by outsiders from West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa.
Which is why, the owner of the castings company hardly had any doubts when he looked at Tudu from West Bengal and gave him a job, purely for professional reasons - cheap labour from outside Tamil Nadu.
A police official said that as per preliminary enquiry, it seemed as if the owner of the company had done nothing wrong and no inkling of his background.
Tudu was living with 19 others in a two room tenement from where he was arrested on Saturday night.
Ironically, if the same labourers who enabled him disappear by mingling with them, they also led to his eventual arrest.
"There were some labourers from the village of Tudu in Jhargaon district, who came to know who he was. He threatened them with dire consequences if his identity was revealed. But some times, even the police get lucky and a tip off came," said an official who is part of the operations in West Bengal. Tudu mingled with the labourers and disappeared but could not hide for long.
The police were tracking his relatives, friends who were not part of maoist movement, and his mobile records. Information from surrendered Maoists too was valuable and added up to give the police credible leads.
Tudu was also visiting his home town.
After it got the tip off, West Bengal police sought help from Tamil Nadu and the result is Saturday's operation.