Top Maoist leader killed in Odisha encounter

Top Maoist leader killed in Odisha encounter

Cold-blooded murder: Wife

The Odisha Police on Monday gunned down Pradip Majhi, a hard-core Maoist, in a major encounter in the tribal-dominated Gajapati district.

Majhi belonged to an outfit floated last year by Sabyasachi Panda, known as the Odisha Maoist Party (OMP),  after he left the the CPI (Maoist) following differences with his senior comrades.

Police sources said the gun battle took place when the armed police of Ganjam and Gajapati were conducting a combing operation in a forest near Mohana in Gajapati district.

A large haul of arms and ammunitions, including pistols and live magazines, have been seized from the spot.

The combing operation is still on.

According to the police, Majhi, who was very close to Panda, the most wanted Maoist leader in Odisha, was not only the second-in-command but also military in charge of the newly floated Maoist outfit. His death will be a major blow for Panda.

During the last few years, Majhi has come under the radar for his involvement in several high profile incidents, including the 2008 killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal as well as last year’s kidnap of two Italian nationals.

As many as 42 criminal cases, including 12 murder cases, were pending against him.
Meanwhile, Mili Panda, wife of Sabyasachi Panda, has condemned the encounter by describing it as a “cold blooded murder”.

“This is part of operation Sabyasachi launched by the Odisha Police. The operation will continue till he (Sabyasachi) is eliminated,” she told reporters in Bhubaneswar.

Mili, who was released from the prison last year following her acquittal by a court, is now contemplating joining politics and contest the 2014 Assembly elections as an independent candidate from a constituency in coastal Nayagarh district, her husband’s home district.

She had recently organised a political meeting in Nayagarh.