Bhubaneswar: Odisha Police on Monday offered to stop their search operation for absconding Odisha Maovadi Party (OMP) founder Sabyasachi Panda if he agreed to surrender.
On Sunday Panda had said that he was hiding safely in the state. "We appeal to Panda to shun violence and surrender. If he gives indication of surrender, there is no need of continuing operation in southern Odisha districts," DGP Prakash Mishra told reporters after meeting a group of senior citizens including freedom fighter Bhabani Patnaik.
Mishra also said that police would ensure that he safely returned to the mainstream. A group of senior citizens led by Patnaik earlier held a dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi statue here seeking peace and stop of violence both by the Maoists and police.
"We want peace to be restored. Both should stop violence," he said. "Panda has been facing threat from his former comrades besides facing the search operation. Most of the Maoist cadres have abandoned him and his group's present strength is only 27," he said.
"If he wants to surrender, police do not want violence," he said. Police along with the CRPF have launched a search operation to nab Panda in the districts of Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada and Kandhamal since November 14 encounter. Panda had reportedly escaped from the Maoist camp when five of his associates were gunned down in the encounter.
The fugitive Maoist for whose arrest the state has already announced a reward of Rs 20 lakh, released an audio-tape to the media where he had said he and his associates were safe.
Panda, branded as one of the the most wanted Maoists of the state, has been accused in different heinous crimes like attack on police armoury, attack on a jail, killing of the VHP leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati which sparked a communal violence in Kandhamal.
Panda alias Sunil, who was the secretary of the Odisha State Organising Committee of the CPI (Maoist), had floated OMP after being expelled from the original party in August this year.