Bhubaneswar: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday demanded a central probe into the circumstances that led to last week’s arrest of Odisha Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, who carried a reward of Rs.5 lakh on his head.

Doubting whether he was arrested or he surrendered, state BJP president K.V. Singh Deo said the truth would come out only when an agency other than the state government’s probed the matter.

“The Maoists never allow their commander to stay alone. How come police found him alone,” he asked while speaking to reporters here. “From day one we have been saying that it was a stage-managed drama,” Singh Deo said.

The BJP leader further alleged that there were reports that some politicians of Odisha’s ruling BJD, as also builders and contractors, had links with the Maoists.

He apprehended that the police would not take the probe to its logical conclusion. “This case needs to be handed over to a central agency like the National Investigation Agency,” he said, adding the BJP would write to the central government to press the demand.

Senior Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader and Industry Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said Singh Deo’s contention was not based on facts. If he had proof, let him come out in open, he said.

Sabyasachi Panda was arrested from Berhampur town in Odisha July 18. There was a reward of Rs.5 lakh on him.

He was involved in a number of cases like the looting of the Nayagarh and R. Udayagiri armouries, the killing of spiritual leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, the abduction of two Italians, and many other cases involving the killing of 25 security personnel and 34 civilians, police said.

Panda is currently in 10-day police custody.

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