Notwithstanding the absence
of ‘official’ word on it, however, such reports cannot be dismissed
offhand because Sabyasachi’s father was a member of Odisha Legislative
Assembly and, hence, it is possible that he has personal relationship
with many leaders of mainstream political parties in the state.
While talking ‘on camera’ to some reporters who
somehow managed to reach Panda’s camp deep in the forests, the Maoist
leader has repeatedly made it clear that surrender is out of question.
“Surrender means accepting the system of governance that has grossly
failed in ensuring equity to the citizens as right, accepting that the
position that you have held on to for so long was wrong.”
Panda has always preferred to live by his ideology in
the forests with the oppressed and deprived people he fights for than
compromise with it for personal gains like escaping death in the hands
of police or the cadres of CPI (Maoist) believed to be looking for an
opportunity to bump him off since he left the party. This has come out
loud and clear during conversations the fugitive leader has had with the
few media persons who have met him in his den, some of whom the author
admires as journalists with the highest standards of professional
While in CPI (Maoist) Party, Panda claimed that his
party killed Laxmanananda Saraswati, a Hindu religious leader. The murder of Saraswati led
to prolonged communal violence in Kandhamal and tarnished the face of
Odisha. Panda also faces charges of engineering attacks on the police
station and armoury in Nayagarh apart from sedition and many other
Still, personally, I welcome the initiatives, if they
have really taken place, to bring Sabyasachi to the political
mainstream. Dialogues and inclusion are any day a better option to armed
action and have a better chance of effective resolution of conflict.
In armed conflict, both sides lose and ‘who gains’
remains an unanswered question. Recently, the camps of Sabyasachi Panda
were raided, some of his supporters arrested and arms recovered. It’s
claimed by the police that Panda took a bullet on his body, but managed
to escape. Police and armed forces continue their operation to nab Panda
as a prize catch and resources of the state are fully engaged to support
the operation against the Maoist leader.
On the other hand, if police sources are to be
believed, Sabyasachi is gathering strength – in terms of supporters and
arms - in the forests. Isn’t the country losing if that indeed is the
The worst sufferers in the whole game have been the
ordinary people who are sandwiched between threats from both parties
engaged in the conflict. It’s quite obvious that the common people want
to live in peace and the conflict to end.
In the other conflict zone of Narayanpatna in Koraput
district, people’s representatives of Tentulipadar gram panchayat have
appealed to the government, through a memorandum to the IIC of local
police station, to drop all charges against Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh
(CMAS) leader Nachika Linga and allow him to come to the mainstream and
live a normal life.
A few days ago, Nachika told this author that he
would contest an election only if his fellow tribal people want him to
do so. Now the appeal made by the people’s representatives seems to be
making way for Nachika to come to the mainstream of social and political
In my view, this must be seen as an opportunity. If
Sabyasachi Panda and Nachika Linga are keen to come to the mainstream,
the State must do everything it can to facilitate that. Naveen Patnaik
had done extremely well in this regard in case of Jagabandhu Majhi, the
late MLA from Umerkote. The same path needs to be followed in the case
of Sabyasachi and Nachika too.