Is Odisha’s most wanted Maoist Sabyasachi Panda running out of time and luck? Director-General of Police Prakash Mishra said on Monday the State Police is very close to pinning him down.
“Yes, we are very close to him. I cannot predict a timeframe, but it can happen any day,” the DGP said after the State Police neutralised Panda’s lieutenant Pradeep Majhi in an encounter in Karanjadua forests of Gajapati district on Monday.
The DGP said there is no future of Odisha Maovadi Party (OMP) nor that of its leader Panda. “He has been reduced to a small unit comprising just about eight men, but he is still armed. And he is trying to regroup the unit,” he said.
Upbeat with State Police’s recent success against the breakaway faction, Mishra said Panda has been requested several times in the past to give himself up and join the mainstream, but he has not paid heed so far.
“The State Government has a very clear Naxal surrender policy. Besides, there has been no instance in which Odisha Police has attacked or hurt any ultra who is keen on surrendering himself/herself,” he said.
The Panda group, he said, has sufficient quantity of arms such as AK-47 and self-loading rifles, but may have been low on ammunition.
Though Panda has not been openly confronting police, he had promised not to take up arms after the Bhaliaguda encounter, but is still armed and dangerous.
“I have already asked him to give up arms and will issue another request to do so. Or else, he knows what consequence to face,” the DGP said, sending a clear signal to the elusive Maoist.
The DGP said the State Police has achieved success in containing the Maoist threat, but the problem is palpable in western and souther pockets where Chhattisgarh and Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee rules the roost.
The pockets of Nuapada and Bargarh bordering Chhattisgarh are a cause of concern, the DGP said, hoping that security forces will soon make inroads into the Maoist territory.
In Narayanpatna, things have been improving with more and more Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha members joining the mainstream.
However, in the southern end, Boipariguda, Machhkund and cut-off areas are still under the control of the Maoists. “We are working closely with Andhra Pradesh to address the problem,” the DGP said.