The state Anti-Terrorist Squad on Friday arrested a Maoist area commander of Jharkhand and Bihar zone belonging to CPI(Maoist) from Vapi town in Valsad district. The accused, Rajesh Ravidas alias Gopal Prasad alias Uttam, was working as a security guard at a private factory in an industrial estate managed by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) by hiding his identity.
The ATS officials claimed that a reward of Rs 50,000 was announced on his head by the Bihar government. He was allegedly involved in killing of 10 CRPF jawans in 2016 in Bihar. He is also facing over 50 cases of anti-national activities and attacks on armed forces in Bihar and Jharkhand, the officials added. Acting on a specific input, the ATS arrested Ravidas from outside the factory. During questioning, Ravidas told ATS officials that he is a native of Gaya district in Bihar.
ATS officials said that Ravidas joined the CPI(Maoist) in 2002 when he was 17-year-old. Later, he was embroiled in a land dispute with government officials in Bihar. He worked under commander Bhola Manjhi and Loha Singh and got training in the use of arms and ammunition from them.
Officials said that Ravidas was also allegedly involved in extorting money from local contractors engaged in government projects in Bihar.
Due to his active involvement in the CPI(Maoist), he rose to the rank of zonal commander of Jharkhand and Bihar and started working under special area committee in-charge Pradyuman Sharma, police said. ATS Deputy Superintendent of Police K K Patel said, “There are over 50 offences of attacks on the armed forces and anti-national activities registered against him and even Bihar government had announced a reward of Rs 50,000 on him.”
Police said that in 2016 Ravidas, with his close aides Anil Yadav, Chandan Nepali and other Maoists, attacked a CRPF battalion and killed 10 jawans in Bihar by using IEDs. He was also allegedly involved in another incident of an attack on CRPF jawans in Gaya 2017, police said.
During an exchange of fire, Ravidas had escaped from the spot after a bullet hit his hand. He then went underground and did not contact his party leaders, police added.
Patel said, “He came to Gujarat around a year ago. Earlier, he had worked as a security guard in a private company in Daman by hiding his identity. He had showed his named as Gopal Prasad. After working there for a couple of months, he came to Vapi and started working as a security guard in a private company under the same name.” “We are trying to find out those who were in close contact with him and what were his activities here and to whom he was meeting regularly. He is a married and his wife stays in Bihar,” Patel added.