Bhubaneswar: Stepping up the search for Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, five of whose cadres were killed in an encounter at the tri-junction of Odisha`s Ganjam- Gajapati-Kandhamal districts, police have released sketches of six of his close associates.
The posters of the six Maoists -- Aruna, Krishna, Andrew Majhi, Pramod Majhi, Pratap Nayak and Prami Majhi -- belonging to the Odisha Maovadi Party floated by Panda, were put up at public places in Gajapati, Ganjam and some other districts.
The police have given assurance that the informant`s identity would be kept a secret.
"We feel that the six are active members. If we succeed in catching any of them, it would be easy to nab Panda," a senior official said.
Panda had floated the new guerrilea outfit after being expelled from the CPI(Maoist) in August this year.
The Odisha`s top guerrilla leader escaped after five of his associates were gunned down during an exchange of fire on November 14 when the security personnel were searching for him in jungles of Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada and Kandhamal districts.
The postmortem examination of the bodies of the five Maoists who were killed was complete. The family members of the Maoists turned up to collect their bodies at the MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur during the day.
Maoist Junesh Digal, who was arrested from a camp after the encounter, was sent to jail, police said.
Meanwhile, in a setback to Panda`s group, a woman cadre identified as Sumita Malik alias Sushila alias Todu surrendered to the police in Ganjam district.
"We were being tortured in the Maoist camp. Some other women members also want to return to mainstream, but they are being prevented by Maoist leaders," Sumitra told reporters at Berhampur.
Ganjam Superintendent of Police Asish Kumar Singh said, "We are taking steps to provide assistance to Sumitra under the state government`s rehabilitation policy."