Sabyasachi Panda getting Naveen Patnaik’s patronage – Niti Exclusive

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Saswat Panigrahi- 24 Jul 2014
Sabyasachi Panda is a product of Missionary-Maoist-NGO nexus and has fuelled mindless violence for the past 15 years. (Photo via twitter)

Odisha Police is interrogating arrested Maoist Sabyasachi Panda in the office of Berhampur Superintendent of Police for the third day.

Panda, who is lodged in a secured cell, as per the direction of a lower court, has been facilitated with the privilege of meeting his family members.

But what is more interesting to note that Panda’s interrogations are being conducted by police officials in the presence of his lawyer, friends and relatives as per the direction of Berhampur Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate.

This is perhaps for the first time that a dreaded Maoist, who is none short of a terror operator, is being provided the rare facility of interrogation in presence of his lawyer, friends and family members.

48-year-old Sabyasachi Panda is not an ordinary criminal. A product of Missionary-Maoist-NGO nexus, the dreaded Maoist has fuelled mindless violence for the past 15 years. Panda, whose hands are soaked in blood of many innocents, is wanted in as many as 65 cases ranging from criminal conspiracy to murder to waging war against the nation state. Sabyasachi is the prime accused in the heinous murder of revered Hindu monk Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his four followers at Kandhamal’s Jaleshpata hermitage in 2008. He had masterminded the Nayagarh armouries loot in 2008 and the abduction of two Italian tour operators in Kandhamal in 2012.

The presence of others during the interrogation severely compromises the very secrecy of such cases.

“This kind of custodial interrogation might protect the interest of the accused, but can’t be justified,” said noted legal luminary and president of the Orissa High Court Bar Association Surya Prasad Mishra while talking to NiTi Central.

There is no dispute that such a move is setting a bad precedent and will subsequently go against the national security interests.

“Sabyasachi is the leader of an organisation which has been banned under the provisions of Unlawful Activities Act. He is a terrorist. His organisation has waged war against the state. During interrogation, a lot of information regarding security of the state will surface. During such interrogations, presence of persons other than the accused would be inimical to the security of the nation. Therefore, the prosecution should appeal against the unusual order of the SDGM court,” said senior BJP leader Ashok Sahu while talking to NiTi Central.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has a track record of going soft on Maoists. There have been instances when the BJD used Maoists for political gains. BJD’s nexus with Maoists got exposed during the abduction of their party MLA Jina Hikaka in 2012. It is an open secret that the abduction of Hikaka was a fallout of a failed pact between the party and the red terror outfit.

There is a strong feeling amid political circles that the State Government is soft in its approach towards the arrested Maoist Sabyasachi Panda because of Panda’s proximity with the ruling party.

It seems the BJD Government is not keen on investigating the important cases against Panda, more particularly the Swami Laxmanada murder case, hence this pussyfooting over the issue.

Rising pressures from massive public outcry forced Naveen Patnaik Government to set up the Justice Sarat Chandra Mohapatra Commission, to inquire into the Laxmanada murder case. After the demise of Justice Mohapatra, presently Justice Naidu Commission is looking into the case. Investigation has not yet completed despite the fact that six years have passed since the incident occurred.

Sabyasachi Panda had already owned up the responsibility for killing Laxmanada Saraswati. However, it could also be a cover-up for the nefarious nexus between Christian Missionaries, political parties and Maoist terror groups. It’s time Justice Naidu Commission identifies the killers and the conspirators behind the heinous crime.

Meanwhile, highly placed sources in Odisha Government say that taking the plea of ‘security concern’, the State Government is not keen to produce Sabyasachi directly before the Naidu Commission and would produce him through video conferencing from Berhampur jail instead. As the article was being written, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati Shradhanjali Samiti has demanded a CBI probe into the case.

Sabyasachi’s direct involvement in various cases makes his interrogation by multiple agencies necessary to crack those cases. Hence, Panda should be jointly interrogated by Intelligence Bureau (IB), Chhattisgarh Police and Andhra Police. This can open a mine of high value intelligence about the modus operandi of these terror operators.


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