As cops hunt for him, injured Panda releases audio tape

A massive manhunt for Maoist leader and Odisha Maobadi Party chief Sabyasachi Panda by the state police and the Central paramilitary forces in Ganjam, Gajapati, and Kandhamal districts did not dither the Maoist on the run from releasing an audio tape in which he claimed to be alive.

Panda had suffered bullet injuries during an encounter with the Orissa police at Mohana block in Gajapati district on November 14. Five of his men were killed. The police had also recovered an Italian-made pistol, a few rifles and several rounds of ammunition. Those who were killed are Ghasiram Bagsing, Ayub Padra, Samson Majhi, Sanatan Mallick and Laxmikanta Nayak of Kandhamal.

In his audio tape, Panda said, "The five people who were killed by the police are innocent villagers. Their families should be given Rs 10 lakh each as compensation." He even called for an Orissa bandh on November 20 in protest against the killings.

Meanwhile, the police put to rest the rumours about a surrender deal and said the Maoist would be arrested at any cost. "Our personnel are keeping a watch on all exit points from the jungles," said DIG (southern range) R K Sharma.

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