Subhashri Panda has raised doubt over the arrest of her husband, top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda by the Orissa police. In a press conference called on Friday in Brahmapur, Orissa DIG Amitabh Thakur had announced the arrest of Panda. But his wife now claims that they have arrested someone else. Panda told TEHELKA, “We went to Brahmapur but they did not let us meet Sabyasachi. I, my daughter, Sabyasachi’s elder brother, all of us went to Brahmapur from Bhubhneswar but the police sent us back. Tell us, how do we know who they have arrested unless the family members identify him? The police say that we can only meet him after the remand period is over.” When TEHELKA asked her why she thinks that the police have arrested someone else, she replied, “Since yesterday the photo the media and the police are showing everybody is not Sabyasachi’s. That’s why we think that the police are lying.”
Subhashri’s statement raises several doubts about the police’s claims. Now, pressure is building on the Orissa police to factually confirm Panda’s arrest. Subhashri further told TEHELKA, “If the police have really arrested Sabyasachi, they should bring him before us. We will work according to the legal process. For a long time I had been trying to bring him into the mainstream but for the political interests of some people I could not succeed.”
Sabyasachi Panda, 50, is one of the senior-most Maoist leaders. His father, Ramesh Panda, was a freedom fighter. In 1991, Sabyasachi joined the Naxalite movement. He founded the Kui Lawenga Sangh (KLS) which later became a prominent outfit of People’s War Group (PWG). In 2001, PWG made Panda the Orissa head of the Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zone Committee. Under him, the naxalite movement gained impetus in southern districts of Orissa Kandhamal, Gajpati and Ganjam. In 2008, his life changed course when a group of maoists under his command murdered VHP leader Laxman Anand Saraswati and his five supporters after which the CPI(M) demoted Sabyasachi from the post of party secretary. In 2012, he was expelled from the party altogether. Since then stories of his surrender have been making rounds.