Acting on a specific tip-off from locals that Mahato, who was carrying a reward of Rs one lakh on his head, was hiding with a squad at Mohanpur near Lodhasuli jungle, the joint forces comprising Central Reserve Police Force, CoBRA and police personnel closed in on the area at approximately 1 am, police sources said.
A cornered Mahto and his squad opened fire and the joint forces led by Additional Joint Superintendent of Police Mukesh Kumar retaliated. The encounter went on till nearly 5 am, the sources said. When the firing ceased, the joint forces entered the forested area and found the body of Mahato.
A motorcycle, a mobile phone and a 9 mm pistol were found near the body, the sources said. Superintendent of Police (Jhargram) Pravin Tripathy said that the operation was a major success as Mahato had been absconding since the announcement of the Rs one lakh reward on his head by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The CBI is investigating the May 28 Gyaneshwari Express disaster, which left 148 passengers dead.
PCPA spokesman Asit Mahto, who took over the leadership of the organisation after the arrest of its convenor Chhatradhar Mahto, is also carrying a reward of Rs one lakh against him. He is the only other wanted accused in the case who is still at large.
PCPA leader Bapi Mahto was arrested earlier from near Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.
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