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How ‘spectacular’ is Odisha Maoist leader’s arrest

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, July 18:

By all accounts, the claim by the Odisha government that the arrest of Odisha Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda is a ‘spectacular’ success, appears to have been a little too exaggerated.

Sabyasachi Panda after his arrest
Sabyasachi Panda after his arrest

Commenting on the development , former DGP SN Tiwari said this cannot be considered a major achievement for the simple reason that since March 2012, Panda had abjured violence and did not constitute a threat to either the police or the state government. He had been reduced virtually to a one-man army after some his closest followers surrendered to the police. Many of them were either arrested or killed during multiple police raids on his camps.

Moreover, since March 2012, Panda had snapped all ties with the CPI-Maoist party, the left wing extremist outfit that is responsible for all acts of violence and constitutes the real challenge for the state police.

There is no doubt that Panda continued to be a thorn in the flesh for the police. He was the most well-known Maoist leader in Odisha who had managed to elude the police net but was available to the media, whether directly or over phone as well as through his regular press statements issued in the audio format.

“Yes, he was a major irritant. Although he was not a threat per se nor known to be a violent person, he had acquired a high profile and there was a feeling among people that he had outsmarted us by remaining elusive all these years. That was surely bothering us,” a senior cop said under conditions of anonymity.

In reality, although Sabyasachi was always armed and stayed in the company of armed cadres, he was never known for his military skills. Following his departure from the CPI-Maoist in 2012, he had unilaterally declared ceasefire but was unwilling to surrender.

He was rendered helpless after the police systematically isolated him from his cadres as well as all sources of financial and logistic support from outside. The police had information on his area of operation and movements, if not the exact location of his camps. A month ago, the police had intelligence inputs that Sabyasachi had moved out of the jungle. This is what led them to work on his possible destinations and that paid off.

With hardly anyone or anything to fall back on, nabbing the lonely rebel was only a question of time, sources said.

The major challenges before the Odisha police is to catch hold of dreaded Maoist leaders -like Ram Krishna (RK) or Daya-who have unleashed a reign of terror in Malkangiri and Koraput and flush out the multiple Maoist groups from Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand who are making inroads into the ineterior parts of the state, the sources added.