RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh police today said they have arrested a senior Naxal leader who had abducted the IAS officer Alex Paul Menon from Sukma district in 2012.
"Bheema alias Akash, a divisional committee (DVC) leader of Maoists who was carrying a reward of Rs 8 lakh on his head, was yesterday nabbed by a special wing of the state intelligence branch," Special Director General of Police (anti-Maoist operations) D M Awasthi said today.
A native of Palamadgu village near Polampalli, a Naxal stronghold in Sukma, Bheema was under the scanner of special smart team (SST), a special unit of SIB, for a long time. He was nabbed from the forests of south Bastar adjoining Andhra Pradesh and Telangana yesterday, said Awasthi.
Bheema joined the Naxals in 2002 when he was 18. After he executed the abduction of Menon, who was then posted as Sukma collector, Bheema was elevated as DVC leader.
During the interrogation Bheema revealed that he was directed by the Naxal leader 'Erra' to abduct Menon from Manjhipara where the collector was to meet villagers on April 21, 2012, said Awasthi.
"A 16-member team of Naxals led by Bheema was camping close to Manjhipara from April 19. They had decided that if seven or eight gunmen accompanied the collector, then the abduction plan would be dropped.
"However, Naxal recce party informed that only one gunman was with the officer," the SDGP said.
The team led by Bheema attacked and shot down the collector's bodyguard who was carrying an AK-47. Another guard fired back with his pistol, but he too was shot dead.
The Naxals then took the collector to Sirshetti village, about 6 km from Manjhipara, and stayed there for a night. They reached Pamlur village on April 27, and on April 29, Menon was handed over to Naxal battalion number 1 commander Hidma.
Menon was released on May 4, 2012.