Prasad at the state police headquarters in Dhurwa, Ranchi, after his arrest early on Thursday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Aug. 14: A top Maoist, wanted in over 100 cases in Jharkhand and Odisha and suspected of planning an attack on Independence Day, was arrested in the wee hours of today from a forest about 70km from Ranchi.
DGP Rajeev Kumar hailed the arrest of CPI(Maoist) Jharkhand regional committee member Krishna Ahir, alias Prasad, as the most significant since last year, given his direct involvement in several attacks on police teams in the state as well in Odisha.
District police and CRPF arrested the rebel, carrying a Rs 20-lakh reward on his head, with an AK-47 rifle and 67 rounds of ammunition after a joint operation that started last evening and continued till 4am today.
According to SP (rural) S.K. Jha, who led the operation at the Hapedag-Barwadag forest under Angara thana, the police had prior information that Prasad was in the area to “plan something” on Independence Day tomorrow.
But, Jha did not elaborate on the alleged plan. “Prasad had reached Angara after a meeting at Jhumra in Bokaro. Around 20 rebels accompanied him. We got the information that he was planning something on the occasion of Independence Day. We cordoned off the area,” he said.
Jha narrated the sequence of events. Around 6pm yesterday, the rebels opened fire after which police retaliated. The shooting continued till late into the night. “Most of the rebels managed to flee, but we caught Prasad early today,” Jha said.
Prasad, a short man wearing fatigues, was blindfolded, handcuffed and had a rope tied around his waist when he was produced before the media this evening at the state police headquarters in Dhurwa.
“He was an operative in Khunti and the Saranda forests of West Singhbhum in Jharkhand, besides Sundergarh forests in neighbouring Odisha. He was wanted in more that 75 cases of murder and attacks on police parties in Jharkhand and 25 similar cases in Odisha. It is the biggest achievement since I became DGP of the state in February, 2013,” Kumar said.
Prasad, a resident of a resident of Mosanga under Arki police station of Khunti district, was the man behind the 2004 ambush at Baliba in Saranda in which 29 persons, including 20 police personnel and 9 CRPF jawans, were killed. He was also behind the Chitir encounter in which nine policemen were killed in Goelkera, West Singhbhum.
Besides the AK-47 and cartridges, police also recovered 50kg of explosives, two steel cans, five metres of wire, Rs 24,500 cash, Maoist literature, an electric detonator, three mobile phones, besides items of daily use.