State mulls bounty on most-wanted Maoists

BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha government is planning to announce an award scheme for information on top Maoists, with a view to step up its ongoing battle against the Red guerillas.

“We have identified the top 25 left wing extremists operating in Odisha and intend to go public about the prize money that could be given to people who help us with information on them,” a well-placed source told TOI on Saturday.

The information, sources said, will aid security forces in arresting or eliminating hardcore rebels. “We want to go the whole hog in emerging successful in our fight against the extremists,” a senior police officer said. The identity of individuals supplying information on top Maoists will be kept confidential, the cop added.

Sources said the award scheme, modeled on the lines of similar policies in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, will include divisional committee, state organizing committee and central committee members of the outlawed CPI (Maoist). “Depending on the position a rebel occupies in the CPI (Maoist) hierarchy, the prize money will range from Rs three lakh to Rs 20 lakh,” a source confided.

Andhra Pradesh is offering a maximum of Rs 12 lakh as prize money for CPI (Maoist) central committee members and Chhattisgarh has announced Rs 7 lakh for the same. “We propose to give Rs 20 lakh for a central committee member,” a source said.

Police and intelligence sleuths have identified at least three top Maoists, Manoj alias Modem Balakrishna (central committee member in-charge of Odisha State Organising Committee); Ramakrishna alias RK (central committee member and secretary, Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee) and Sabyasachi Panda (secretary, Odisha State Organising Committee), who could carry a prize money of Rs 20 lakh each. Hardcore Maoists like Girish (member, OSOC), Nikhil (secretary, Vansadhara divisional committee) and Basant (secretary, Kalinga Nagar divisional committee) would also be carrying prize money on them, among others, police sources disclosed.

Till now, Odisha police has had no official policy to give pecuniary benefit to informers and has been giving assistance through unofficial routes. But once the proposed scheme gets the government’s nod it would be easier for security and intelligence officers to advertise the names of ‘most wanted Maoists’ and score a few psychological points over the ultras, sources added.

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