Arrested Sabyasachi Panda No More Has Naveen’s Patronage
After years of chasing and tracking, Odisha Police has finally managed to arrest the dreaded Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda.In a midnight operation on July 17-18, Panda was arrested from Berhampur city’s Bada Bazar area . Sabyasachi Panda epitomised the macabre Mao-Missionary-NGO nexus that fuels mindless violence, particularly against Hindus since last 15 years .Though Sabyasachi claims to fight for the poor, but ultimately he emerged as an evangelist bootlicker.
Sabyasachi Panda is a graduate in Mathematics. From his college career, he was indulged in communist activities being a member of the student federation of CPI-M.L. In 2002, the CPI (M-L) was merged with Peoples’ War Group (PWG). Sabyasachi became an active comrade of the PWG. In 2004, PWG and MCC were merged and the CPI (Maoist) was formed. Panda soon rose to be a mid-level leader within the of CPI (Maoist) hierarchy. In 2006, Sabaysachi was appointed the secretary of the Odisha State Organising Committee of CPI (Maoist). He gained virtual control of over the forest hinterland in four crucial districts of western Odisha—Kandhamal, Gajapati, Rayagada and Ganjam. The dense forest in the belt also played a crucial role in the rise of Sabyasachi. In March 24, 2006, the first major attack took place under his leadership with the armouries loot in R Udaygiri in Gajapati district. On the same day, Sabyasachi and his team stormed G Udayagiri sub-jail and freed as many as 40 Maoist cadre. In February 2008, under his leadership, 500 heavily armed Maoists attacked the police training school in Nayagarh and killed 18 police personnel, including two women. The Maoists looted the district armoury in Nayagarh after virtually laying siege to the town.
Swami Laxmanannanda ji was brutally murdered along with his three disciples in side his Ashram at Jaleshpetta—Kandhamal on 23rd August,2008 i.e. on the night of holly Janmastami. After the incident took place, the locals of Tumudibandha area caught hold of a Christian Missionaries namely Pradesh Kumar Das (an employee of World Vision, a missionary institution of Kharagpur, West Bengal), Vikram Digal and William Digal who were directly monitored the assassination of Swami ji . Vikram Digal and William Digal were arrested by police from the house of Lal Digal who happens to be an ill-reputed Missionary having been involved in Maoist activities. However, later these arrested persons were released surprisingly . Just one hour after the murder of Swami ji, Sri Gopal Ch. Nanda, the then DGP of Odisha made a media statement that the incident had been caused by the red rebels . He allegedly tried his best to de-link Christian—Maoist link in this case, where as the admirers of Swamiji, Sangh Parivar placed substantial evidences regarding Church Sponsored assassination –materialised by Christian Maoists. Two days after the assassination, Sabyasachi Panda in his press statement claimed the responsibility of Swamiji’s murder. But in spite of that Naveen government of Odisha put its hands in pockets and did not initiate criminal proceeding against Sabyasachi Panda. Brahmachari Madhaba Chaitanya, a disciple of Swamiji filed a case in the Orissa High Court in 2011 seeking Hon’ble court’s intervention in the investigation process. It was alleged that the state government wilfully tried to give safe passage to certain culprits having substantial nexus with the incident. Those culprits were Uday Badjena, Somanath Badajena, Azad, Birendra Kanhar and Sabyasachi Panda. It was also placed before the Hon’ble court that the deceased Swamiji was in the target of Christian proselytizers since long and he was physically attacked by them nine times from 1969 to 2007. Later the High Court issued direction to the state government for immediate initiation of criminal proceedings against the other accused persons including Sabyasachi Panda. After that only, the Naveen government was constrained to laid prosecution against Panda. Here a question arises, why Panda was not booked initially for Swamiji assassination? Did Naveen government wish to give him a safe passage? Though the state functionaries very well knew the whereabouts of Sabyasachi Panda, still then he was not being arrested. Who knows, it might be due to his father’s close friend Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, the then mentor of the BJD government. Panda’s brother is an active member of BJD and his name was proposed by Pyari Mohan Mohapatra as a candidate in MLA election from Nayagarh constituency, but due to protest by party men it was foiled.
The murder of Swamiji led to a split in the Maoist ranks, many of whom revered Swamiji. This led to a major crisis for Panda as he was boycotted by his admirers and funds by missionaries were not sufficient enough to revamp his lost brigade. Therefore, he staged a hostage drama in the month of January,2012 wherein two foreigners were kidnapped along with one MLA of BJD . Panda was in fact putting pressure on the government to give him a safe passage in the form of political settlement followed by his surrender. But it was not possible as because BJP staged a massive protest against it. However the Naveen government set free Panda’s wife Mili Panda from jail . The case against Mili Panda was reportedly made loosened by the state government for which she managed to escape from conviction. As the prosecution against Mili Panda was not made in a proper way under the provisions of Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act, she got the charges quashed in the High court in 2012. In the aforenoted hostage drama, it was alleged that the so-called incident was just like a drama to make an eye wash. The two kidnapped Italians, Paolo Bosusco and Cladio Colangelo, were very much known to the Maoists and to the church. Paolo happens to be a Christian missionary who frequently visits the state and was indulged in the work of the Church and Christian NGOs. Sources say, this Paolo was staying at Baliguda and Daringbadi area of Kandhamal district in 2008 and he was distributing money, literature among the natives to get them baptised. He is the monger of procelytisation having direct link with the local church and international funding agencies. During the time of Swamiji’s assassination, Paolo was in Kandhamal, where safe passage was ensured by the state government under supervision of one senior IAS officer. Since then, Paolo was reportedly continuing in his church-assigned work of conversion in Kandhamal, Boudh, Koraput and some parts of Nayagarh district. Apart from this, Paolo was running his business in Puri. Then question arises that why and how Paolo’s movements in Puri and Kandhamal-Boudh were left unnoticed by the administration?
Paolo was functioning as a funding agent of church. In the name of NGO activities, he worked for conversion under the nose of the administration. Many missionary NGOs fund directly goes to Maoists for spreading terror. Some of the church’s money to Maoists became restricted. In order to put the church under pressure, missionary Paolo has been abducted with his Italian friend by Sabyasachi Panda to put pressure on Church to continue funding and also to pressurise the government for his safe passage.
It is hard to believe that the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD Government was unaware of the whereabouts of Sabyasachi Panda all this time. It clearly chose to sit on the information without acting. Now, the state government is facing allegations that Panda’s arrest is ‘stage-managed’. How a dreaded Maoist, who virtually controlled the forest hinterland of western Odisha, could fall into the police net so meekly without even showing any resistance, lends credence to these allegations.
Sabyasachi’s arrest is not the end Maoism in Odisha. He however is a repository of information on the modus operandi of Red Terror.
These inputs would be crucial for shoring up our internal security. Sabyasachi Panda should be jointly interrogated by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Chhattisgarh Police and Andhra Pradesh Police or alternatively the NIA should take over his case.
By Debasis Tripathy from Bhubaneswar