Jharkhand-based Maoist outfit People's Liberation Front of India's supremo (PLFI) Dinesh Gope, who had a reward of Rs 30 lakh on his head, was arrested in Delhi following a raid by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Sunday, officials said.

Gope, alias Kuldeep Yadav alias Badku, was earlier charge sheeted by the NIA in a case related to the recovery of demonetised currency of Rs 25.38 lakhs from PLFI operatives. He was absconding in the case, one of the two being investigated by the NIA's Ranchi branch against the PLFI.

An NIA official official said that Gope was involved in 102 criminal cases, registered against him in Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha, and most of them relating to murders, abductions, threats, extortion, and raising funds for the PLFI.

"The NIA had also declared a reward of Rs 5 lakh for leads on Gope, in addition to the reward of Rs 25 lakh announced by the Jharkhand Government. He had been absconding for almost two decades," said the official.

On February 3, 2022, an encounter took place between a Gope-led PLFI squad and security personnel in the forest area under Gudri Police station of Jharkhand's West Singhbhum district but the rebels sneaked back into the forest and Gope managed to escape. He had been absconding since then, and had been taking shelter at different places while making all efforts to re-establish the PLFI's stronghold in Jharkhand.

"Gope used to extort money and execute attacks through his PLFI team members to terrorise businessmen, contractors and the public at large. The accused, along with his associates, was involved in depositing the demonetised currency in a bank account of a petrol pump to be later collected through levy/extortion. The illegal money was then invested through banking channels and dubious shell companies in the name of close associates and family members of Gope," said the official.

The case was initially registered on November 10, 2016 at PS Bero, Ranchi, and re-registered by the NIA on January 19, 2018. The police had filed the first charge sheet against four persons on January 9, 2017.

The NIA filed the first supplementary charge sheet in the case against 11 accused, including Gope. Later, the NIA filed the second supplementary charge sheet in the case on July 23, 2022 against five individuals and three private limited companies. The NIA had also attached 14 bank accounts and two cars, alongwith cash and immovable property worth more than a crore, in the case.

Known previously as Jharkhand Liberation Tigers (JLT), PLFI is responsible for hundreds of terror incidents in Jharkhand, including several murders using firearms, as per the NIA investigations. The outfit used to lure unemployed youth by providing them motor bikes, mobile phones and easy money and after imparting training, used to equip them with lethal weapons to carry out terror incidents.

Extortion is PLFI's major source of income and the outfit has been targeting coal traders, railway contractors, and various private entities involved in developmental projects in various district of Jharkhand. The Maoist outfit had also formed alliances with different criminal gangs in order to spread their nefarious activities, and executed several incidents of murders and arson in Jharkhand.

Gope was part of a criminal conspiracy to channelise the extorted funds collected from the contractors/businessmen engaged in developmental projects in Jharkhand. He was involved in investing these funds in dubious shell companies like Palak Enterprises, Shiv Adi Shakti, Shiv Shakti Samridhi Infra Pvt Ltd, Bhavya Engicon, formed in partnership with other PLFI associates and his family members. The extorted money was also being transferred from Jharkhand to other places through a network of hawala operators.

In July 2007, Masi Charan Purty, a renegade of the CPI-Maoist, along with several of his followers, had joined Gope in order to expand PLFI. Though Purty was subsequently arrested, the PLFI spread its activities under Gope's command. He used to collect huge amounts of extortion money, which was further used to procure sophisticated weapons, including AK-47s and foreign-made rifles, such as HK-33s.