BHUBANESWAR: Hours after legislator Jhina Hikaka was kidnapped, internal bickering among the fraternal outfits of CPI (Maoist) has emerged as the possible reason behind the abduction.
What lends credence to reports of growing wrangling among the regional outfits of the Maoist Party is the way Andhra Odisha Special Zonal Border Committee responded to the Odisha State Committee’s call for no-violence during peace talks for release of the two Italian hostages.
After deciding to hold talks, Sabyasachi Panda, secretary of the State Committee, had declared unilateral cease-fire and appealed to the cadres of other outfits, operating in the State, not to indulge in violence. But on March 22, the AP group set off landmines and gunned down a police officer in Malkangiri only to follow it up with the abduction of the MLA in a span of three days!
“All this happened when the peace talks were underway. The spate of incidents shows that Panda does not have support from its fraternal outfits which are opposed to his activities and attempt to take centre stage. Besides, Panda has long been eyeing a membership in the central committee of the CPI (Maoist), but his moves have been thwarted in the past too,” said sources.
While Panda may have tried to assert his supremacy over Ganjam, parts of Gajapati, Rayagada and Kandhamal districts, his core areas of operation, the Srikalulam-Koraput Division of CPI (Maoist) holds sway over Koraput, Malkangiri and parts of Gajapati.
Last year, when Mainpur Division of the CPI (Maoist), an outfit in Chhattisgarh, decided to gun down Umerkote MLA Jagabandhu Majhi, Panda was believed to have opposed it.
“The Italians’ abduction did not go down well with the outfits from the neighbouring state (AP) and what was offered in return to the call for restraint was a huge snub,” say police sources. It eventually led to suspension of the talks by the interlocutors, appointed by the Orissa State Committee, since Andhra Pradesh group paid no heed to Panda’s appeal.
A second, and interesting theory says BJD insiders may have been behind the scene. Hikaka played a major role in the tie-up between the BJD and the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), a rebel outfit fighting against the Government over land rights, for the Zilla Parishad elections in Koraput.