A senior Maoist leader involved in a deadly attack on security forces last year has been allegedly arrested but police have denied holding him, prompting the rebels to call a state-wide shutdown on Monday unless the authorities quickly produce him in public.
Sushil Ganju, self-styled zonal commander of the CPI-Maoists, is said to have led the Katiya massacre in which 14 security personnel were killed. The government had announced a reward of Rs.3 lakhs for his capture.
Deenbandhu, the secretary of the CPI-Maoists’ Koyal Sangh Zone who uses only one name, called up HT to say Ganju was arrested along with a woman companion early on Saturday in Gumla. He said he feared the police could kill the arrested leader in a staged shootout.
While the police did not officially confirm the arrest, sources in the department told Hindustan Times that Ganju was picked up following a joint operation by security forces.
A senior police officer in Gumla, who is not authorised to talk to the media, said: “Ganju was arrested from Katkahi village under Chainpur police station.” Others police sources said they had learnt that the woman arrested along with Ganju was probably his girlfriend.
During interrogation, Ganju had allegedly admitted to leading the Katiya operation in Latehar district last year. In the attack, Maoists had, for the first time, surgically implanted IED in the abdomen of two CRPF troopers.
Ganju also admitted he and his fighters had been assigned the task of cornering security forces, killing them and snatching their weapons, police sources said.
“He told us that his seniors had specifically directed him not to damage the bodies of the troopers so that surgical implantation of IEDs could be carried out,” said a police source.