The Orissa police notched up a major success in their anti-Maoist battle after they arrested top Maoist leader Girish Mahato and two of his accomplices in the forests of Paikmal block in Bargarh district. Mahato had escaped Chaibasa jail of Jharkhand in January last year along with two other rebels by scaling the prison walls. The Jharkhand police had announced a reward of Rs 4 lakh on his head.
Mahato was reportedly arrested during a combing operation.
With more than 20 years behind Maoist ranks, Mahato is a senior cadre who was assigned to revive the organisation in the western Orissa districts of Sambalpur and Deogarh. Inspector general of police (anti-Naxal operations) YB Khurania said Mahato was the key man for get these two districts for Maoists, that would enable the rebels to create a corridor stretching from Serenda forests of Jharkhand to Chhattisgarh. “After escaping to Serenda forests last year, he had sneaked back to Sambalpur 6 months ago to spread the rebel activities in western Orissa,” said Khurania.
He was involved in the burning of 27 trucks of ARSS Construction Company in Mundher village of Sambalpur district in October last year. The rebels also took around 80 employees of ARSS construction company as hostages during the operation. Though the police launched combing operation in the area soon after, Mahato managed to escape. He was also involved in the killing of sarpanch of Meghpal gram panchayat in 2003 when the first seeds of Maoist violence were sown in Sambalpur.