TOP MAOIST leader Arvindji, who was active in Bihar and Jharkhand and carried a reward of more than Rs 1 crore on his head, is believed to have died in the forests of Latehar district, according to Jharkhand Police officials.
According to police sources, Arvindji was believed to have taken ill and died Wednesday morning in Budha Pahar area. The information, they added, was being verified.
ADG (Operations) and Jharkhand Police spokesperson R K Mullik said: “We have got the information and we have reasons to believe that it is true. However, we are further verifying the information.”
Arvindji, who was in his 50s, and other top leaders of rebel group CPI(Maoist) had set up camp in Budha Pahar area for a long time, the police said.
For the past one year, the security forces had been trying to gain control of the area and had managed to contain the Maoist presence there. In January last year, at least six CRPF personnel, including two Assistant Commandants, were injured in a series of IED blasts triggered by the Maoists, when the forces tried to enter the area.
Sources said Arvindji alias Dev Kumar Singh alias Nishant was a member of the central committee of CPI (Maoist) and was wanted by the police forces of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Bihar apart from Jharkhand. They said he was well-educated and had expertise in technology. He was involved in a number of killings and attacks on security forces, they added.
Considered an expert in inter-district Maoist operations, security forces had found that Maoists from other states used to seek Arvindji’s suggestions on operations against the forces and other tasks. A police dossier said he was a “strategist and mastermind” of Maoist operations in Jharkhand for years.
In 2016, Balkeshwar alias Sandeepda, believed to be Arvindji’s second-in-command, had surrendered before the police, dealing a big blow to the Maoists.
The forces had reported Arvindji moving in the Budha Pahar area and other forest areas of the state on horse back for years and several times he escaped by a whisker as security forces closed in on him.
According to a senior police officer, the total number of Maoists present in Budha Pahar area had been dwindling over a period of time even as the security forces made gradual inroads in the area. The police and security forces had begun setting up camps and pickets in the area amid reports that Arvindji and some other top Maoist operatives had slipped out from there. —With PTI