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The Maharashtra Police have arrested a dreaded, wanted Maoist who carried a Rs 150 lakh reward on his head, officials said here on Friday. The accused – identified as Peka Madi Pungati (42) was caught near a traffic check post during a security blockade enforced by the CRPF and Bhamragad QRT teams.

Acting on a tip-off that a person was lurking around suspiciously in the forests near the checkpost, the security personnel detained him for questioning. During the interrogation, it emerged that he was a wanted Maoist linked with a Jan Militia active in the Gadchiroli jungles and placed him under arrest, days before the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in the state will begin on April 19.

Barely four months ago on December 19, he was involved in the torching of three tractors and one JCB plus attacking many labourers near Hiddur village, besides abducting and killing a police constable in the region in 2016.

Pungati was also active through the Jan Militia and helped organise Maoist activities, arranging food and logistics support, forcing villagers to attend Maoist meetings in the forests and other works after which Maharashtra announced the bounty for his capture.

Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police Neelotpal urged the rebel Reds to shun violence and take advantage of the surrender policy of the state government to join the national mainstream.

Pungati’s arrest came four days (March 19) after the Maharashtra Police’s C-60 commandos and CRPF jawans shot dead four Maoists who sneaked in here early on Tuesday from Telangana, with a collective reward of Rs 36 lakhs on their heads.