July 17: A Maoist top gun, who is an IIT Kharagpur dropout and whose father is a retired sessions judge, was arrested last night from a railway station in Purulia in what is being seen as the biggest breakthrough for security forces since the killing of guerrilla leader Kishan last year.
Arnab Dam, a CPI (Maoist) member known as Bikram among the rebels, was caught at Biramdi railway station, located in the foothills of the Ayodhya hills, police said.
The 34-year-old Bikram was in charge of the 80-member armed squad of Maoists in Purulia and was liaising with Maoist strongholds in the neighbouring states of Odisha and Jharkhand.
Bikram is also the prime accused in the kidnapping and murder of intelligence branch officer Partha Biswas and his school teacher friend Soumyajit Basu in the Ayodhya hills in October 2010.
The mutilated bodies of Biswas and Basu were dug out of a pit inside a jungle five months after the killings.
The police said they had received a tip-off yesterday that Bikram would reach a spot near Biramdi station late in the night to meet a contact.
“We laid a trap for him there,” said L.N. Meena, the deputy inspector-general of police, Midnapore range. “We despatched a team of around 200 men drawn from the joint forces and surrounded the area. Late at night, Bikram came to the spot alone, armed with an AK-47 rifle. Our men moved in and captured him before he could react.”
Meena said the “contact” had not arrived when Bikram was captured. “He must have got the news of Bikram’s capture and he did not show up at all,” the officer said.
The police said at the time of his capture Bikram was also involved in re-organising the Maoist armed squad network in the Ayodhya hills and recruiting fresh members.
“After the change in government in the state, many Maoists had switched loyalties and joined Trinamul,” a police officer said. “As a result, and especially after the killing of Kishan, the rebel outfit had suffered a major setback. It was for this that Bikram was conducting a recruitment drive.”
The contact was supposed to help him identify potential armed squad recruits. “Bikram is skilled in motivating newcomers in the organisation,” a police officer said.
The police are also on the lookout for Ranjit Pal, a Maoist operating in the area and facing a number of murder and extortion charges.
Meena said Bikram has cases pending against him in Odisha and Jharkhand as well. “We have communicated Bikram’s arrest to the police in these two states,” Meena said. “The police in these two states have contacted us and said that they will take him into their custody for interrogation.”
Bikram was produced in the court of the chief judicial magistrate in Purulia and remanded in police custody for seven days.