Police on Saturday arrested Manoj Mahato, secretary of Maoist front organisation People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) in Lalgarh. They will produce him before a local court on Sunday.
With Mahato's arrest, the once mighty PCAPA now faces a near vacuum at the top.
Addressing a press conference, Manoj Verma, superintendent of police, West Midnapore, under whose jurisdiction Lalgarh falls, said: "This is a major success for us. There are seven specific cases against him. We hope that now, we will be able to arrest some more wanted Maoists and PCAPA members and leaders."
Mahato's family, however, claimed that he had been arrested on Friday. The police denied this claim.
"We do not differentiate between PCAPA members and Maoists. They are the same and work together," Verma added.
It may be recalled that PCAPA members had planned and carried out the derailment of Gyaneswari Express on May 28 this year in which more than 140 passengers lost their lives.
Mahato, a long-time PCAPA member, was appointed general secretary of the organisation following the death of previous general secretary Sidhu Soren on July 26.
Since then, he had been overseeing all activities of the Maoist-backed tribal outfit and even allegedly played an important role in mobilising the locals for Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee's Lalgarh rally on August 9.
Only two senior PCAPA leaders are still at large – spokesperson Asit Mahato, who carries a reward of Rs 2 lakh after being declared wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation for the Gyaneswari accident, and vice president Santosh Patra, a founder-member of the organisation.