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Top Maoist commander dies of heart attack in hideout

‘Arvindji’ had emerged as a major challenge for the security forces, who never caught him alive

Patna: A top Maoist commander, wanted by police across at least nine Indian states in connection with around 150 cases, has died of heart attack in his hideout in Jharkhand, police said on Thursday.

He died on Wednesday.

The dreaded Maoist Deo Kumar Singh — who had many aliases including Arvindji, Vikas, Shravan, Nishant and Sujit — was carrying a reward of Rs10 million (Dh564,360) on his head.

He had emerged as a major challenge for the security forces, who never caught him alive.

“We had information that he was suffering from heart ailments for long. The latest information is that he is dead. We are verifying the facts as his body has not been recovered,” a Jharkhand police spokesperson Ashish Batra told the media on Thursday.

Another police official said his wife Prabhawati, an anganwadi sevika (rural mother and child care worker), had left for the Jharkhand forest on Wednesday which “makes us believe that his last rites will be conducted in the jungle”.

“We have set our eyes on the entire developments,” the official said.

Authorities said Singh would always walk in the company of 150-200 well-trained Maoists equipped with sophisticated weapons such as AK-47 rifles and rocket launchers and had his own mounted force.

“The security forces saw Arvindji moving on horseback for years and several times, he escaped by a whisker,” authorities said.

Informed sources said the notorious commander, most known by his name Arvindji, had been suffering from serious heart ailments for the past about two years but was finding it hard to consult doctors owing to police surveillance.

He was said to be holed up in Buddha Pahad, a hilly and forested area spread across the Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh border and known as the “headquarters” of the Maoists, for quite some time but problem for him began in last October when the Jharkhand police launched a massive operation to free the hilly area from the rebels. Since then Arvindji was constantly on the run looking for safe shelter.

Analysts said the development is a major blow to the Maoists, as they are battling hard to prove their strength in the twin states of Bihar and Jharkhand, amid a police crackdown on their operations.

The deceased, a strategist and mastermind, was instrumental in organising many attacks on police but came into the limelight when he executed the 2005 Jehanabad jailbreak, in which more than 100 Maoists had been set free by attacking the jail at night.

He further hit the headlines when he had planted bombs in the abdomen of at least four dead soldiers to cause more loss of policemen’s lives.

At least 11 cops had been killed in encounter with the Maoists in the jungles of Jharkhand’s Latehar district in 2013.

Arvindji who hailed from Bihar’s Jehanbad district had shifted to Jharkhand after the police launched a massive combing operation in the areas to nab him after the jailbreak.

As per media reports, his heart ailments had turned serious in recent weeks but with police after him, he was unable to consult doctors.

At presently, he was being provided medical aids in his hideout itself. Also he was unable to get good food owing to continued police pressures. All these factors eventually led to his death.

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