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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Maoist leader's wife acquitted by court

Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times  Bhubaneswar, April 10, 2012
First Published: 11:40 IST(10/4/2012) | Last Updated: 23:21 IST(10/4/2012)

A fast track court on Tuesday acquitted Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda's wife, Subhashree Panda, for lack of evidence in a case related to an encounter between Maoists and police in 2003 in Rayagada district.

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"I was acquitted by court. This is my victory. The government had nothing to do with my release," she said after coming out of the court in Gunupur in Rayagada district.

Subhashree was first arrested in Bhubaneswar in January 2010 on charge of involvement and abetment in terrorist activities.

The case against her was quashed by the Orissa high court in October 2011, but before being released, she was re-arrested in the encounter case and shifted from a jail in Bhubaneswar to another in Rayagada district.

"I am a simple housewife but was falsely implicated in cases just because my husband happened to be a Maoist leader," she had earlier told reporters during one of her recent hearings in the court.

Subhashree's name figured in the list of 27 persons that Odisha chief minister had announced for release of Italian citizen Paolo Basusco and MLA Jhina Hikaka from Maoist captivity.

Police sources said the crime branch had evidence of her involvement in several other cases including Nayagarh arms loot but refrained from submitting new production warrant against her due to state government's decision to release prisoners including Subhashree.

Talking to Hindustan Times, human rights activist and lawyer Bishwapriya Kanungo said Subhashree's acquittal was a complete judicial process.

"The only contribution by the government was that she was not slapped with some new cases after her release from jail," said Kanungo, who was the first to decline the offer of being a mediator for Paolo's release.

Kanungo said Subhashree was not involved in any of the illegal activities under which she was charged. The police also could not substantiate its charges in the high court as well as fast track court.

"Arresting her was a tactics to mount pressure on Panda. Her case is just a single instance; there are many such cases of pressure tactics against those who practise politics of dissent," Kanungo said.

Subhashree, a graduate in English honours, married Panda in the late 1990s and has a 10-year-old daughter. Both were members of Students Federation of India of the CPM.

Their fathers were also cadres of CPM. Panda's father, Ramesh Panda, was a three time CPM MLA from Ranapur in Puri district.


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