Ranchi/Hazaribagh, May 31: Director-general of police G.S. Rath confirmed this evening that Maoist zonal commander Naveen Manjhi was among the quartet arrested by joint forces on Tuesday from a Hazaribagh forest, exulting that capture of the top-ranking rebel would hit Naxalite activities hard in red pockets of Jhumra and Parasnath hills.
Manjhi, who carries a Rs 10-lakh reward on his head, is a prize catch.
“A few persons were rounded up a couple of days back. Today, it was confirmed that one of them is Naveen Manjhi, while the others were let off,” Rath, who had yesterday denied the rebel leader’s arrest, told The Telegraph late this evening. The DGP said that police officials were interrogating Manjhi in Hazaribagh.
“We will produce him in the court tomorrow and plead to take him in remand,” he added.
IG (operations) S.N. Pradhan said the arrest — “purely an intelligence-based pick-up” — was a setback for the outfit in Upper Ghat, an area that connects Jhumra in Bokaro to Parasnath in Giridih. “He was the badshah of that region just as Kundan Pahan in the Bundu-Tamar-Khunti belt,” he added.
Pradhan said police had also arrested Manjhi’s close aide Sita Ram Manjhi from Bokaro yesterday. “Maoists will take time to re-group in the region,” he claimed.
The IG added that Manjhi’s “magnetic personality” made recruiting cadres easy in the region. With him behind bars, the rebel outfit would find it difficult to recruit cadres.
But according to police sources, the Maoist leadership of late was unhappy with Manjhi, said to be 47 years old, for his relations with a girl named Chameli alias Manisha, whom he had married.
The Jinga region (Vishnugarh in Hazaribagh, Bokaro and Giridih) was hence put in charge of one Ajay Mahto. Manjhi was transferred to Odisha.
The police are doubtless hoping that a disgruntled Manjhi would reveal many secrets pertaining to the organisation, resources and key strategists of the banned rebel outfit. For, if the rebel leader chooses to speak, he will be a veritable goldmine of information.