A Maoist zonal commander, identified as Sanjay Yadav, believed to be in his thirties, was on Tuesday killed in an exchange of fire between him and the security forces in a village under Palkot police station area of Gumla district. The police said that he was a zonal commander of Maoists and carried a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head.
According to the police, a joint team of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the local police launched an operation in the early hours of Tuesday to raid the hideouts, where top Maoist operative Khudi Munda was believed to be staying for the last three to four days.
Gumla Superintendent of Police Bhimsen T said that the security forces had information about Munda and his close associate, Yadav, hiding in a village Keorkatta under Palkot police station area.
“We had information that Munda and Yadav usually move together. We had set targeted both of them. Munda, however, could not be traced. But the forces spotted Yadav trying to escape on a motorcycle, riding pillion. When confronted by the forces, he jumped out and tried to escape while opening fire. In the ensuing encounter, he was killed. The firing occurred between 11 a.m. and 11.30 a.m.,” said the SP.
Bhimsen added that Yadav forced a motorcycle rider to allow him to ride pillion as he tried to flee, realising that the forces were closing-in on him. “The motorcycle rider has been detained. Initially, it has come to light that he was a local man and could not refuse Yadav’s diktat, as the latter was armed, to give him a lift. But the exit route Yadav took found him having a head-on confrontation with the security forces. He then jumped out and tried to escape by opening fire,” said Bhimsen.
The police have recovered a carbine, a pistol, 66 live rounds of ammunition, Rs 2 lakh in cash supposed to be part of levy, besides receipts and Maoist literature.
Yadav alias Mantriji alias Yatin was a resident of Purana Hindiya village under Manatu police station area of Palamu. He was involved in several cases of attacking policemen and also the civilian population.
Yadav was the zonal commander and head of Simdega Sub-zone, which covered all of Simdega district, besides two police station areas of Gumla. “Apart from Gumla and Simdega, he was also active in Palamu and possibly in Chatra. We are collecting records regarding him,” said the SP.
Inspector General (Operations) M S Bhatia said: “This is definitely a big catch. He was a zonal commander. In the last couple of months, barring Chirag Da, who was killed on Bihar-Jharkhand border, Yadav is among the top most commanders to have been neutralised by the security forces.” Chirag was incharge of Bihar-Jharkhand special area committee.
Together with four Maoists, including a woman, who were gunned down in Bundu area of Ranchi on February 20, the security forces have neutralised 11 Maoists in the less than two months.
Following the gunning down of Chirag Da, the Maoists had held a meeting of their groups in the forests of Chaibasa district. While one of the groups was neutralised in Ranchi, the other group of Shravan carried out explosions in two panchayat bhawans in Latehar district, besides setting mobile phone towers afire. They had also given a bandh call on February 15 and 16 in Bihar and Jharkhand.