Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal
Bhubaneswar: One of the top Naxal leaders and Odisha`s most wanted, Sabyasachi Panda, has been arrested.
Panda was arrested at Berhampur, in Odisha`s Ganjam district, by the state police on Friday.
Director General of Police Sanjeev Marik informed that Panda was nabbed during a police raid at a hideout following intelligence inputs.
"It was an intelligence based operation under Amitabha Thakur, deputy inspector general of police at Berhampur. There was a raid at a specific area and he was arrested," Marik said.
"More than 40-50 cases are pending against him, among them are Nayagarh armoury loot, killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and the kidnapping of two Italians," Marik said.
"The state government had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh on him," Marik said
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik congratulated the police and reiterated his appeal to the rebels to shun violence.
"Sabyasachi Panda was involved in a number of cases like the Nayagarh and R Udayagiri armoury loots, killing Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, abduction of two Italian nationals and in many other cases, leading to the killing of 25 security personnel and 34 civilians," Patnaik told reporters.
"I congratulate the Odisha police and particularly the intelligence wing and Berhampur police who participated in this operation," he said.
"I also appeal to the Maoists to shed violence and join the mainstream," he added.
Panda had hit international headlines in 2012 after he engineered the kidnapping of two Italians. He was expelled by the CPI(Maoist) soon after.
He was also wanted in more than 50 criminal cases, including the murder of Swami Laxamananda Saraswati and four of his aides in Kandhamal district in 2008 that had triggered communal violence in the region.
The hunt for Panda was intensified recently after he floated a new party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist). The aim behind the creation of the new party was to bring like-minded "revolutionaries" on a single platform.
Security forces feared that post the creation of the new party, Panda could order a step up in violence in the state`s Naxal-infested districts, like Ganjam, Kandhamal, Gajapati and Rayagada.