So, after producing Sabyasachi in the Berhampur
court, Police has taken him on remand for interrogation which may extend for
more days as happened in most such cases.
The claims made and hopes raised by the police
raise two major questions: Is the arrest of Sabyasachi truly a spectacular
success of the police? Is the arrest of Sabyasachi going to affect Maoist
operations in Odisha and neighbouring states?
In the last two years, Sabyasachi was believed to going weaker with less number
of cadres in his group. His differences with the leaders of Andhra Odisha Border
(AOB) Special Zonal Committee leaders came to light when he admitted, while
speaking to a selected group of journalists in his camp, that involvement of
Maoist outfit in killing of Swami Laxmananand Saraswati, which resulted in a
violent class conflict in Kandhamal in 2008, was a “mistake” and didn’t even
follow the ideological path of mobilising mass opinion before going for
His act of abduction of two Italian citizens couldn’t even help strengthening
his position in the party. Rather, Sabyasachi was criticised for abducting
foreign nationals who were not the part of state their war was meant against.
Many even termed this act a self-interest driven one after the release of his
wife Subhashree Das aka Mili Panda was made one of the conditions for release of
the abducted Italians.
His 16 page letter addressed to CPI-Maoist general secretary Ganapathi and two
other senior leaders highlighting the ill-doings of AOBSZC leaders, which fell
in the hands of police and media during transit, led to further anger against
him in the other camp. This led to his increased isolation and expulsion from
the CPI-Maoist party in 2012.
Though he attempted to revive his strength by announcing “Odisha Maobadi Party”
(OMP), after being expelled from CPI-Maoist party to give his activities a
banner, it couldn’t gather adequate strength in terms of cadres and
sympathisers. Rather, many of his cadres surrendered and a few were killed by
the police. It’s only a few days since merger of OMP and CPI-ML (Janashakti) and
formation of the CPI (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) Party that Sabyasachi fell in
Sabyasachi was isolated from all sides and was leaving a life threatened by the
armed Police and colleagues of his old party. As noted journalist Rahul Pandita
mentions in one of his reports, “He feared that the Maoist leadership had
intentions of eliminating him.”
Apprehending that the Police would shoot him at the first sight, a group of
Gandhian activists appealed him to surrender and join the mainstream. But
Sabyasachi declined to do so saying that such a move would indirectly endorse
the State policies which he had been terming as anti-people in nature to serve
the interests of bourgeois or capitalist forces. He didn’t want to negate his
own views of the State by surrendering before it.
It’s, however, fortunate for him and his family that he was arrested alive by
Police. Many see the arrest as a planned drama, most possibly, with some
political motives because Sabyasachi would play vital in establishing his past
links with some political leaders against whom the ruling party wants to score.
“Surely some strings somewhere accelerated the process and finally he is under
the state custody,” said Dr K Anuradha, a development activist working on land
issues and tribal development.
So, if things are such, the success claim of police seems to be a hollow one.
But, there is no doubt that the arrest would work as a morale booster for the
state police and insurgency combating forces.
Police, however, hopes that it can get some important leads from the data stored
in the seized laptop of Sabyasachi which would be helpful in tracking the
Maoists and understand their style of operation. It may also get contacts of
Maoists their sympathisers working in urban places for “expansion of the
revolution on basis of the principles of proletarian internationalism,” as
declared by Co-ordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South
Asia (CCOMPOSA) in its fifth Conference of May 2013.
Mentioning that “South Asia is ripe for new democratic revolution,” the
conference resolved to "Seize power where it is possible, develop ongoing
people's wars to higher levels, prepare and initiate people's war where parties
exist and build up parties where they don’t.”
Several activities of merger and expansion of the
left-wing extremist (LWE) networks during the past months have been inspired by
this idea of expansion.
Merger of Communist Party of India (CPI)
Marxist-Leninist – Naxalbari, having influence in Kerala, Karnataka and
Maharastra, with CPI – Maoist, as claimed in a joint press release issued on May
1, 2014, has extended the operational area, called red corridor, of the LWEs
from the borders of Nepal and Bhutan in the north to the southern peninsula
connected throughout by ranges of hills and forests bearing most of India’s
mineral and water sources. Even, several dalams (squads) have been
amalgamated to form bigger and powerful groups.
The extended corridor from northern borders of India to southern peninsular
state of Kerala will serve as the highway to expand the radical movement to
other south Asian countries and take it forward while making India the epicentre
of “new democratic movement,” as the LWE parties refer to it, in the Indian
Under this expansion plan, there is no doubt that the two south Indian
committees, Andhra Pradesh State Committee and the AOBSZC will entertain and
exercise more power in expanding activities in the region.
In such a situation, how arrest of Sabyasachi Panda, a
Maoist leader who operated in parts of Odisha only is going to be help police of
Odisha and the bordering states in combating Maoist extremism?
It’s a fact that most of the left-wing extremist
groups operating in India are primarily rooted to the earlier movements of
Andhra Pradesh, for the cause of greater Telengana state, and the armed uprising
of Naxalbari by peasants in West Bengal that has given an alternative identity
to the LWE cadres who are also called ‘Naxals’ in India. Sabyasachi too entered
the radical movement through the Andhra Pradesh movements run by the People’s
As he worked as a part of the AOBSZC of CPI-Maoist party and, at times, with AP
State Committee leaders, he would be well aware of the movement route and
operational style of the leaders and their squads. Since most of the leaders
across the country are produced by these two Andhra Pradesh based committees,
Police would get more information on the leaders operating in different parts
from him. It’s reported several times that Sabyasachi had good link with several
senior leaders and central committee members of CPI-Maoist party.
Expecting that his knowledge of the movement and leaders of the party would help
to a great deal, the Andhra Pradesh (AP) Police would also seek Sabyasachi in
its custody. More than 60 criminal cases have been slapped on Sabyasachi in AP
as well, said the report.
“Though Panda is said to have lost his control over the region, the (AP) police
officials are confident that he will furnish some information on the Maoist
activities that would help the police in keeping a tab on the Left wing
extremists on the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) area,” said a report in The New
This way, the “Revolution’s Poster Boy,” as Sabyasachi was termed by journalist
Rahul Pandita, bears enormous importance for the anti-insurgency forces of India
even after being treated as an “old dog,” as referred by Panda himself in his 16
page letter to the central leaders of CPI-Maoist party, by his former
It’s for this reason, however, Sabyasachi Panda can be counted as a prize catch
for the Police.