A top Maoist leader carrying a Rs 20 lakh bounty on his head escaped a police trap on Friday in Jharkhand’s Gumla district, a top official said. This is the third time in a month that the rebel leader, Arvindji, has managed to evade security forces.
The escape comes in the midst of an all-out offensive by security forces against Maoist outfits and splinter groups active in the state.
Gumla additional superintendent of police (operations) Pawan Singh confirmed that the commander was among several rebels who managed to flee after a six-hour-­long encounter in the Luru-Satri forests on the Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh border, around 120 km west of Ranchi.
“We killed at least five rebels in the encounter. One body has been recovered while the others were taken away by the rebels,” Singh added.
Arvindji, born Deo Kumar Singh, is said to be in his fifties and is a native of Jehanabad district of Bihar. Police said he has a post-graduate degree from Patna university and is a central committee member of the biggest Maoist outfit, CPI-Maoists.
Police sources said Arvindji first escaped on February 21 after an encounter in the same district. Later on February 24, his group was engaged in yet another shoot-out with the police at Sanai-Tangar under Ghaghra police station, also in Gumla.
“The police have intensified operations to hunt down the Maoist leader,” said Singh adding that one automatic rifle, 150 live rounds, walkie-talkies and a grenade was recovered from Friday’s encounter spot.
In a related development, CRPF personnel recovered a huge cache of arms hidden from Mahutand area in Latehar.
The recovery included an AK-47 rifle, four grenades and 111 rounds of assault rifle. The police also defused a 20kg can bomb in Palamu and improvised explosive devices in Lohardaga district.
Security forces have also recovered explosives and live cartridges in Jhumra and surrounding areas of Gomia block of Bokaro district over the past three days.
Bokaro superintendent of police A Vijayalakshmi said on Friday that 160 live cartridges of INSAS and AK-47 rifles, two hand grenades, a can-bomb weighing 10 kilograms, Maoist literature and a register having details about government officials were recovered from two bunkers on the foothills of Jhumra.