It would not be wrong to say that he had no option
except recreating this mirage as all his resourceful, strong over-ground links
are in jail. Or, is it that the state repression escalated so much that getting
arrest was the last resort? So this arrest throws several questions where
everyone is contended in their own roles. Of course, there were few
intellectuals who wrote a letter to Panda to come to the mainstream. But,
surely some strings somewhere accelerated the process and finally he is under
the state custody.
As the news came in the media, he was arrested
from Berhampur Badabazar on 17 July 2014 during night and kept in a secret place
where he was under interrogation. Higher officials of the Police who addressed
the media told that police obtained two lakh rupees in cash, one laptop, five
pen-drives, 10 cell phones and many other articles. When the media rushed to
take the reactions of his wife Mili panda, who was very cordial and was ready to
answer the press, she came out with many statements and one has to read between
the lines. After the initial worry about her husband’s health, she said five
pertinent things within the 10 to 15 minutes interaction with the media and
which of course indicated that this arrest or surrender was planned which might
be contradictory to the so called Naxal leaders and the way they operate.
Mili Panda said:
1. Law will take its own course but he has no
links and he has been falsely implicated in these cases. And she is going to
extend all support required by the police.
2. She emphasised that since two years he has not
been involved in any violent activities and has been maintaining a distance from
the violent Maoists.
3. Many political leaders also do have criminal
backgrounds but still they are elected and has a position, similarly he will
also be acquitted soon from the cases.
4. Asked that her husband is involved in killing
of more than 34 security personnel, she answered, “who has seen and who has the
visual evidence of those killings? So he will also be released. And this step by
the police where he has not been encountered but arrested made her happy as he
is already in the main stream.”
She, however, claimed that all the information
given by the police is completely forged as far as the seizure of articles from
Panda is concerned.
This is quite contradictory to what police said,
that he has been involved in several cases in Rayagda, Gajapati, Nayagarh and
other places. Does it mean that she tries to prove that all the allegations made
by the police are false and police is ineffective? She also claimed that the law
could not prove anything against her and she was released after two and half
years. Does it mean that our law has many loopholes and any criminal can simply
escape through it? The police officials or any security personnel who risk their
lives and work in the Naxal affected regions, leaving their families behind,
with all dangers make arrests and don’t even get any reward for it. How can they
satisfy their morale hearing such statements that a leader like Sabyasachi Panda
will also be released!
Wife of the police officer who was killed during
the Nayagarh attack (operation ropeway) said, “Panda should be punished
The stage is set, elections are over, monsoon
sessions of the assembly is running and Chief Minister comes and declares that
Sabyasachi is arrested while congratulating the police department especially
from the Ganjam district and announced that the police will be rewarded.
One fact raising suspicion in this whole episode
is the stay of Panda in the same house for the last 25 to 30 days, which is
quite contradictory as research shows that leaders of such stature always change
their places every two to four days to go unnoticed and escape any kind of
arrest. But in Panda’s case he was staying in the same place for the last 25
days waiting to be arrested by the police?
Whether arrest or surrender of the Naxal Leader
Sabyasachi Panda has brought him in mainstream now, as his wife stated and the
Chief Minister also appealed to shed violence, there is a hope that many things
can be done constructively and adopting non-violent means than with violence.
The state government thanked the media for giving
a good coverage and told, it will update the media timely. Since the news on
Naxalism and a chit-chat with naxal leaders are always sensational, whoever
breaks or makes the news in the media takes the credit. Be it from the media or
one that fits in the profile of naxal sympathiser, a certain amount of glamour
is always attached to it.
Of course, the democratic organizations and their
sympathisers are expected to appreciate Panda’s efforts and the extremists will
lambast. And, researchers will analyse and interpret depending on the facts and
Sabyasachi may be released after a couple of
years. But, what shall be the fate of his allies? What will happen to the plight
of the people who have lost their near and dear ones in the crossfire during
different operations? How the state is going to justify and satisfy all the
questions? Only time can give us the answers.
[Author works on issues related
to land and tribal development.]