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Red strike flies in face of CM plea

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 20: A Maoist-enforced “bandh”, coming hard on the heels of a killing in Malkangiri district, today hit life in parts of southern and western Odisha even as chief minister Naveen Patnaik renewed his appeal to the rebels to return to the mainstream.

“We once again urge the Maoists to return to the mainstream as the state has a good rehabilitation policy for the rebels who give up,” said Naveen. The appeal assumes significance in view of the stepped up police operation against renegade Maoist leader, Sabyasachi Panda.

The state-wide shutdown called by Panda’s fledgling outfit, the Odisha Maobadi Party, though peaceful, was preceded by the killing of a “police informer” in Malkangiri district. Sources said about a dozen gun-toting Maoists dragged Bheema Seesha, a farmer, out of his house at Sisaput village last night and chopped his head off with a sharp weapon. Then they riddled his body with bullets.

The shutdown hit life in the interior areas of districts such as Kandhamal, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri and Ganjam with vehicles keeping off the road and even train services between Koraput and Rayagada being affected.

The police arrested four of Sabyasachi Panda’s associates in Baliaguda on Ganjam-Gajapati border during an encounter on November 14 that had killed five Maoists.

The arrested rebels revealed that Panda and Nikita, one of his close lieutenants, had received bullet wounds in their hands during the encounter while Pradeep, another of his associates, was severely injured.