Odisha Maoist Leader Sabyasachi arrested
BHUBANESWAR: Top extremist leader Sabyasachi Panda has been arrested from Badabazaar in Berhampur town of Ganjam district, police said on Friday. Arms, ammunition and Maoist documents were also seized from him.
Sabyasachi, the topmost homebred Red rebel in Odisha, is accused of several crimes, including murder of senior VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others in Kandhamal in August 2008, kidnapping of two Italian nationals in March 2012 and killing of over a dozen policemen and armoury loot in Nayagarh in February 2008.
Sabyasachi, who carried an award of Rs 20 lakh on his head, had in August 2012 formed his own extremist outfit, Odisha Maovadi Party, after he was removed from the outlawed CPI (Maoist), of which he was secretary, Odisha State Organising Committee, for some years. He used Sunil as a fictitious name during his interaction with the media. Police sources said he was apprehended while he was taking shelter at an aide's house in Badabazaar.
"This being the monsoon season it is difficult to hide inside the forests. We were closely tracking his movements," a police officer said.
Though police is yet to make a formal announcement about his arrest, senior police officers confirmed the development. DGP Sanjeev Marik is expected to address a press conference in this regard in Berhampur later in the day. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik is also likely to make a statement in the state assembly.
In the past few years, Sabyasachi's support base had weakened and he limited his area of operation to Ganjam, Kandhamal, Gajapati and Rayagada districts. Police had nabbed several of his associates while some others had surrendered.
In March 2013, police killed his deputy, Govinda Majhi alias Pradeep, during an exchange of fire at Mohana in Gajapati district. Top police officers had also held out the olive branch to Sabyasachi after he fell out with the top brass of CPI (Maoist), but he had, in media statements, turned down the offer.
In January 2010, police arrested Sabyasachi's wife, Subhashree aka Mili, on charges of being a Maoist. She walked out of judicial custody in April 2012 after a court in Gunupur acquitted her in a Maoist-related case and has since been functioning as a political activist. Earlier this year, she unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections from Ranpur in Nayagarh district, Sabyasachi's native area. Former DGP Gopal Nanda described Sabyasachi's arrest as a "big success" for Odisha police.
"But I don't think it would affect the Maoist movement in the state in a major way as he was no longer part of the parent outfit. His strength had during the past few years gone down," he noted. "The Maoist leadership in the state is in the hands of people from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and they are operating in Malkangiri, Koraput and certain other parts of the state. Police has to effectively deal with them," he added.
Former DGP Bipin Bihari Mishra said, "The development should be a big morale booster for state police, which had been after him for long. Sabyasachi can reveal a lot of information that should help combat the Maoists." Source-TOI
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