Top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda rules out surrender

Sabyasachi Panda, Orissa’s top Maoist leader and main accused in VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati’s murder in 2008 and the kidnap of two Italian nationals earlier this year, has sought to scotch speculations about his surrender.

In an audiotape released to the media, Panda, secretary of Orissa State Organising Committee of CPI (Maoist), state police was deliberately spreading canard about him. “Such speculation is nothing but silly police tactics,” he said in the tape released late on Saturday.

Speculation with regard to Panda’s surrender was fuelled recently when his wife, Subhashree Das recently indicated that her husband could give up arms if Orissa government withdraws all cases against him.

As it is Panda, who was in news when he abducted an Italian tourist and a tour operator from the same country in Kandhamal in March, is getting progressively alienated within the Maoist organization. He fell out with top Maoist leaders like Ramkrishna and Modem Balakrishna following the abduction of the foreigners since he had executed it without taking the top party leadership into confidence.

Besides, security forces have launched an intensified operation against Panda, who has over 50 cases against him including the murder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, and his area of operation is getting narrowed down. Top police officials said he now operates in a 75 km area between Ganjam and Kandhmal districts.

State’s new director general of police, Prakash Mishra has been keen on Panda’s surrender because he believes this would help him strike at the root of Maoist problem in Odisha. Soon after taking up charge on July 6, Mishra had said that resolving the Maoist problem would be his top priority and he would be happy if Panda, the top rebel leader of the state, gave up arms and returned to the mainstream.

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