Raipur: An ex-Naxal commander and his associate were arrested for allegedly blackmailing and 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 lodged a complaint in the police station alleging that a group of unidentified people visited her house on the night of February 2 and demanded Rs 10 lakh, Ramkrishna Sahu Superintendent of Police Balrampur said.
They claimed to have links with 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 a normal life but in the last few months he had been spotted roaming in Balrampur district for unknown reasons, another police official said.
"We are investigating to find out if he still has links with Maoists and whether the money really demanded for the Maoists," the official said.