Ranchi, Jul 15 (IANS): Security forces on Friday neutralised a dreaded Maoist carrying a Rs 15 lakh reward on his head in a fierce shootout in the densely forested Krurmgrah area in Jharkhand's Gumla district. The Maoist was wanted for his involvement in at least 53 criminal offences including 20 murders and more than a dozen cases of attempt to murder.

A joint team of the Central Reserve Police Force's (CRPF) 209 Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) unit and Jharkhand Police neutralised notorious Maoist Budeshwar Oraon.

"The security forces were persistently tracking Budeshwar who had terrorised the area and had been chargesheeted and named in at least 53 criminal offences including 20 murders and more than a dozen cases of attempt to murder," the CRPF said.

The Jharkhand government had announced a reward of Rs 15 lakh on his head, it said.

Oraon and his team of armed Maoists were surrounded by the security forces based on intelligence inputs. The shootout started when the Maoists opened heavy fire on the troopers from well entrenched positions.

"The troopers retaliated and in the ensuing gun battle, Budeshwar Oraon alias Lullha, 45, was neutralised."

As the firing subsided for a short while, the troopers recovered the body of the Maoist along with an AK-47 rifle.

The CRPF said that the "operation is still on".