BERHAMPUR: Combing operations have been stepped up in Maoist-affected Ganjam, Gajapati and Kandhamal districts of Odisha following the arrest of top left wing extremist leader Sabyasachi Panda.
"There is no doubt that a major Maoist group was destroyed in the area with the arrest of Sabyasachi. But intensive anti-maoist operations will continue in the area in order to wipe out the other groups," said DIG of Police (southern range), Amitabh Thakur.
Police suspect that Maoist cadres from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were still active in Kandahmal-Gajapati-Rayagada and Rayagada-Kandhamal-Kalahandi border areas.
"More ultras from the neighbouring states are likely to infiltrate the area to strengthen their organization in the absence of Sabyasachi, who reportedly opposed their violent activities," he said.
With Panda in custody, members of Odisha Maobadi Party (OMP) founded by him are likely to be inclined towards the new groups, he added.
OMP, which had been formed by Panda in 2012, had been dominating the southern districts of Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Rayagada and Nayagarh during the last several years and the rebel is believed to have been involved in over 60 different cases in these districts.
Panda had been expelled from CPI(Maoist) for criticising its leader Ganapathi in an open letter when the banned outfit had formed Ghumusara-Nagabali-Vansadhara division to spread its influence in the area.
Kandhamal Superintendent of Police K V Singh said "The ultras are present in the district. The anti-maoist operation is continuing in different places. Though we have not detected activities of Maoists in the district, checking of vehicles and keeping an eye on the movement of suspicious persons in the border areas is continuing"
Central security forces have strengthened the anti-maoist operations in Gajapati district, its police superintendent C S Meena said.