Maoists set death squad after a colleague for advocating peace

Odisha's Sabyasachi Panda is insisting on political mobilisation


Prasanna Mohanty | July 9, 2012

If you think the Maoists have any intention of abjuring violence and join the peace process, junk it.

The intelligence agencies have forwarded a sensational piece of information to the union home ministry: The Maoists have put a bounty on the head of one of their own - Sabyasachi Panda - and set a killers’ squad after him precisely for insisting that the organisation should focus on political mobilisation, and not violence, to achieve their goal of overthrowing the state.

Intelligence reports say Panda had recently written 2-3 letters to the central committee, their highest decision-making body, expressing his ideological differences. The committee not only shot down the suggestions as unworkable but viewed his insistence as a mark of revolt.

Panda was recently in news for the abduction of two Italian tourists in Odisha in March this year. He was also responsible for killing VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati in Kandhamal in 2008 that sparked communal violence. He heads the Odisha state organising committee (OSOC) running the show in Odisha’s Kandhamal, Rayagada, Gajapati and Ganjam districts. The rest part of the state is controlled by the Andhra-Odisha special zonal committee (AOSZC), run by the Andhra cadre.

It has been widely known that Panda is upset at being increasingly marginalised in the decision-making process of the organisation which came to be controlled by the Andhra cadre after the two dominating factions, MCC and PWG, merged in 2004 to form the CPI (Maoist). Panda is a native of Odisha. It is the Andhra cadre that has announced the bounty and set the killers’ squad after him.

The difference between Panda and the Andhra cadre goes back to Lakmananda’s killing, which aggravated further after the abduction of Italian tourists. He is believed to have carried out these operations without prior approval of the central committee and against the organisations’ policy of not targeting the tourists.

Panda’s change of heart is attributed more to the security threat to him and his followers and his growing irrelevance within the organisation, rather than a genuine change of heart.



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