Chhattisgarh: former Naxal arrested in extortion case

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Balrampur, Mar 10 (PTI) A former Naxal commander and his associate were arrested for allegedly trying to extort Rs 10 lakh from a woman sarpanch in Chhattisgarh's Balrampur district, police said on Wednesday.

Praveen Khess alias Nepali, a former `zonal commander' of the rebels, was held from his village Mainpat in neighbouring Surguja district while his aide Sanjay Lohar was arrested from Rajpur police station area of Balrampur, police said.

Sangeeta Pakira, sarpanch of Khjuriadiah village panchayat, had complained that a group of unidentified people visited her house on the night of February 2 and demanded Rs 10 lakh, Balrampur Superintendent of Police Ramkrishna Sahu said.

They claimed to be linked to Naxals and threatened her with dire consequences if she informed police, the SP added.

During investigation, four persons allegedly linked to Nepali were nabbed.

On Tuesday, Nepali and Lohar, a native of Jharkhand, were arrested and pamphlets of the Maoists' Koyal Sankh Zonal Committee which is active on Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh border were recovered from their possession, the SP said.

The accused were booked under IPC sections 384 (punishment for extortion), provisions of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Sahu said.

Nepali had been earlier arrested by police when he was active as a Maoist. After his release from jail in 2009, he was leading normal life but in the last few months he had been roaming in Balrampur district for unknown reasons, said another police official.

'We are probing if he still has links with Maoists and whether the extortion money was meant for the ultras,' the official said. PTI COR TKP KRK KRK