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Land-grab mastermind in police custody

Tribal leader Navin Mahto was arrested on Friday from Biharia village in Purnea district, a day after police reclaimed 100 acres of encroached land at the neighbouring Paroda village.

Residents of the village, around 365km northeast of Patna, intercepted Mahto and handed him over to the police.

Some tribals, led by Mahto, had encroached upon the land on August 15, 2012.

Sadar sub-divisional officer Raj Kumar told The Telegraph: “The residents of the villages near Paroda were tired of unlawful activities of Mahto. He was leading the tribal protest and had encroached upon the 100-acre land, known as August Nagar area, at Paroda village. Residents of Biharia village caught Mahto today (on Friday) and handed him over to us. He is in the police custody and is being interrogated at present. He would be later produced before the court of chief judicial magistrate of Purnea sent to central jail.”

Purnea superintendent of police (SP) Ajit Kumar Satyarthi said: “The police are camping at Paroda village. At present, the encroachers have been driven out and the situation is under control. Cops have been deployed in the area to avoid any untoward incident. The police are maintaining strict vigil on the site.”

Sources said the tribals, most of whom are Santhals, could try and recapture the land. “The police are aware of it and are on an alert,” the SP said.

Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Lal Babu Lal on Friday asked the state government to give homes to tribals who were removed from Paroda village in Krityanand police station.

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