The Orissa Police on Tuesday arrested P Rama Rao alias Uday, a top-ranking CPI-Maoist leader who allegedly masterminded the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad activist Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal district in August 2008.
Uday and three of his associates were arrested from the Gudari jungles of Rayagada district, nearly 550 km away from here, during combing operations on Tuesday.
Uday, according to police sources, who refused to be identified, is the area commander of the Bansadhara division of the CPI-Maoist’s Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee and is the third in command in the Naxal hierarchy in Orissa.
The timing of the arrest is significant as it comes two days before the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls in the state. The BJP has been capitalising on the fact that the “real killers” of the swami are still at large.
Earlier, Sabysachi Panda, secretary of the Bansdhara division, had owned up to the killing that triggered the Kandhamal riots. The Crime Branch, which was assigned to probe the killing, released sketches of two prime suspects, one of them being Uday’s. Inspector General of Police, Crime Branch, Arun Ray told HT, “Uday is one of the masterminds of the killing and his interrogation will reveal more details about the crime.”
The police sources said some weapons looted from the Nayagarh armoury by the Naxals in February 2008 were also recovered from Uday and his associates. The police suspect that Uday was involved in the armoury raid in which 14 policemen were killed.
Although the police are tightlipped about the events that led to the arrests, there were reports earlier that the swami’s killing caused intra-party differences, as it led to the sufferings of poor people. The riots claimed 42 lives. Besides, 154 Christian churches, prayer houses and other institutions, a total of 3,269 houses were damaged or burnt during the riots.