The head of the CPI (Maoist) in Jharkhand, Arvindji, is suspected to be hiding in Kumundih jungle in Latehar district of Jharkhand. The name reminds of the infamous CPI (Maoist) attack in Latehar district in which a total 16 personnel, including 12 jawans (11 from the Central Reserve Police Force and one from the state’s commando force, ‘Jharkhand Jaguars’) were killed in January 2013. It also reminds of the manner in which the Maoists placed the body of three CRPF jawans over landmines, and implanted photo-sensitive and pressure-release improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the abdomens of two other slain jawans to cause further damage to those who came to retrieve the bodies.
Arvindji, along with Prashanta Bose and Misir Besra, two other politburo members of the CPI (Maoist), have taken up the task of regaining the party’s strength in Jharkhand. Hoping to oppose the Saranda action plan, Arvindji, along with Sandeep Yadav, Bara Vikas alias Umesh alias Dinesh Yadav, Indrajit Yadav and over 150 Maoists planned to reach Saranda forest on the Jharkhand-Odisha border. However, the plan was foiled by the police in the district as the local Maoist zonal commander, who was entrusted with the charge of providing safe passage to Arvindji, could not do so despite his best efforts.
Deo Kumar Singh, also known by the alias Nishantji, is one of the top leaders and is part of the central committee member of the CPI (Maoist). Little is known about him, however, some media reports reveal that he joined the Naxal movement some 25 years ago. Because of his notoriety the state has declared a reward of INR 1,200,000 for his capture.
Arvindji, a native of Jehanabad district of Bihar, has a post-graduate degree from Patna University, and has a well-settled family. His wife Prabhavati helped him in collecting and transferring the money collected as 'levy' that the Naxals extort from those carrying out commercial activities. She was arrested by the Bihar Police in Jehanabad in 2012, after they found her in possession of INR 2700,000 in cash, which she could not have earned as an angandwadi sevika in a Jehanabad village.
The track record of Arvindji indicates that he has carried out several attacks on security forces, besides attacking an independent MP and former Jharkhand assembly speaker Inder Singh Namdhari in December 2011, in which 11 police personnel were killed. He was reportedly close to Maoist leader Kishenji, who was killed by security forces in November 2011. He had executed a landmine blast in the Bhandaria locality of Garhwa district in January 2012 in which 14 security forces, including the officer-in-charge of Bhandaria police station, were killed. Further, in April 2012, a group of Maoists guided by Arvindji had opened indiscriminate fire on security forces combing the Barwadih jungles in Latehar district, killing a Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) commando and injuring many others.
The deadly attack and the maximum damage that was inflicted on the anti-Naxal forces in the Latehar ambush simply caught the attention of the Maoist leaders. Though the act of using dead bodies of the slain jawans as booby traps (by implanting the explosive materials inside) was criticised, it was seen as an innovative change of tactics by the Maoist leaders, and later they considered promoting Arvindji to be a politburo member in the party hierarchy. Currently, he figures among the top 10 in the organisational hierarchy of CPI (Maoist).
Arvindji is also known to be a member of the central military commission of the CPI (Maoist). He is considered to be a specialist in handling IEDs and landmines, which was very much evident from the Latehar attack. Moreover, it is believed that all the Maoist activities that are carried in Jharkhand are directly supervised by him. Under his leadership, the Maoists had been experimenting with this new offensive in the jungles of Latehar district. It is learnt that in some of the Naxal training sessions, the Maoists are implanting explosives in the body of animals to check the impact.
Further, a source in the Jharkhand Jaguars has revealed that Maoists under Arvindji have strewn landmines across large swathes of the jungles. It is said that the jungle areas under the control of the Maoists are planted with landmines, which does not allow even the villagers to visit other places. A police source said Maoists blast a landmine whenever security forces come within 500 metres of their camps. Also, it is learnt that the Maoists under his leadership are using children as human shields so that any civilian deaths by bullets can be used for propaganda against state atrocities.
Jharkhand Police alleged that he masterminded the Dumka ambush in which superintendent of police Amarjit Balihar and four of his men were killed when they were returning from a security review meeting in Dumka, a divisional headquarter.
Arvindji, as the secretary of Bihar Jharkhand Special Area Committee (BJSAC) of the CPI (Maoist), looks after all the Maoist operations in Bihar, Jharkhand and north Chhattisgarh, which come under his operational area, and he reports to the highest commanders of the CPI (Maoist). He also procures arms and ammunition from outside and ensures their safe passage to the Naxals who happen to pass by his area. In the case of the seizure of a US Army-issued assault rifle from a senior cadre of CPI (Maoist) by the Jharkhand Police, later investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) inquiry assumed that it was the possible handiwork of Arvindji, who might have procured these weapons from Northeastern insurgent groups.