Dealing a body blow to Sabyasachi Panda’s breakaway Maoist outfit, Odisha Police on Monday gunned down his second-in-command Pradeep Majhi in the Karanjadua forests of Gajapati district’s Mohana police limits, following an exchange of fire.
Pradeep, alias Govind Majhi, who was in the rank of a divisional committee member, is a main accused in the abduction of two Italian tourists as well as assassination of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and Nayagarh armoury attack of 2008.
Basing on intelligence inputs, a joint team of Ganjam and Gajapati police zeroed in on the location of Pradeep in the dense forest area where he reportedly engaged the security forces with gun-fire. After an encounter, he was gunned down and some his associates are believed to have escaped.
Director-General of Police Prakash Mishra said Panda was also in the area though he may not have been in the scene and security forces were still after him. The police team recovered an Italian make pistol, a single barrel muzzle loading gun, two fully-loaded magazines, kit bag and Maoist literature. Pradeep was found in olive green uniform.
Mishra said the neutralisation of Pradeep, who happened to be the military in-charge of Panda’s Odisha Maovadi Party (OMP), will be a huge step in knocking off the impact of the outfit in the State.
The 25-year-old Maoist, who belonged to Rayagada, was inducted into Odisha Chhatra Mancha of CPI(Maoist) in 2003 when he was in Class VIII in a tribal school of Gudari. He was drafted into Basadhara Division and worked first under Udaya and then under Azad till both were arrested.
After Panda broke away from the CPI(Maoist), the DGP said Pradeep was entrusted with the task of managing same area where Basadhara Dalam was operating under Nikhil. Pradeep oversaw Rayagada, Gajapati, Kandhamal and Ganjam districts. He was wanted in 46 cases, some of which were high-profile in nature and included Brahmanigaon ambulance blast, Katingia beat house burning, murder of two gram rakhis of Gajapati and destruction of five mobile phone towers. Police said Pradeep was involved in about 12 murders.