HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Odisha Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda arrested

Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times  Bhubaneshwar, July 18, 2014
First Published: 10:46 IST(18/7/2014) | Last Updated: 23:47 IST(18/7/2014)

Odisha Police arrested the state's top Maoist leader, Sabyasachi Panda, on Friday, in what authorities said was a major achievement in the anti-Maoist campaign.

Panda was wanted in over 60 criminal cases, including the killing of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal in 2008 and the abduction of two Italian tourists in 2012.

"This is a big achievement for Odisha Police," said director general of police Sanjiv Marik.

The Maoists, also known as Naxals, have been fighting for decades across vast swathes of eastern and central India. They say they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless labourers, but authorities see them as the country's biggest internal security threat.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced the arrest in the assembly and congratulated the police personnel who participated in the operation. "I also take the opportunity to appeal to Maoists to shed violence and join the mainstream," he said.

Police recovered a revolver, some ammunition, Rs. 2 lakh, 500gm of gold, 10 mobile phones, a laptop, two hard discs and five pen drives from Panda, who was arrested in Ganjam district.

But experts said Panda's arrest would make little difference to the Maoist movement in the state as he had become powerless in the past two years after falling out with the leadership of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

"His arrest will not impact the Maoist movement in the state, which is being controlled by cadres from Andhra Pradesh," said former Odisha DGP SN Tiwari.

 Watch video: Odisha CM confirms Panda's arrest

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