A Maoist suspected in the killing of a journalist earlier in the year has been arrested from the Sukma district of India’s central Chhattisgarh state.

Banjami Hidma (35) was taken into custody from the forests during a search operation, reports said on Tuesday, quoting Sukma Superintendent of Police Abhishek Shandilya.

Hidma was wanted for allegedly murdering journalist Nemi Chand Jain (45). He had a price of Rs 50,000 ($809) on his head for his capture.

On a tip-off about his presence in Tongpal of South Bastar, about 450km from the town of Raipur, a team of local police mobilised and later nabbed him, the reports said. He was being questioned by the police.

Hidma may also be involved in another attack in which a key Chhattisgarh Congress leader Mahendra Karma was killed, the reports said.

Massive operation

The arrest comes even as a massive anti-Maoist operation is on across several states.

For the first time, 40,000 central security forces assisted by state police have been given a complete go-ahead for the operation without having to bother about jurisdictional obstacles, according to reports in DNA newspaper.

The operation covers strongholds of Maoists in the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.
Reports quoting sources described the operations as largely a ground offensive in remote areas resulting in several Maoist camps being busted.

The operation was launched at this time of the year as there are largely no rains from now until monsoons six months hence.

The decision to go for the offensive was taken at a meeting of top police officials of the various states where Maoists were considered strong, the reports said.

Maoist violence has dominated several states in India, including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bengal and Bihar causing hundreds of deaths among security forces, Maoists and civilians caught in the crossfire.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had once even described Maoist violence as India’s biggest internal security threat.

Source: Al Jazeera