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Surrender on cards? Civil society appeals Panda to eschew violence
Civil Society Members like Annapurna Maharana, Sumitra Choudhury, Rabi Ray, Md. Baja, Ratna Das, Bhabani Charan Patnaik, Krushna Mohanty, Bhagaban Prakash and Prof. Radha Mohan have jointly appealed Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda to eschew violence.

NINE PROMINENT civil society members, including Gandhians and freedom fighters jointly appealed Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda to eschew violence and join the mainstream.

The civil society members described Panda as fighting for the interest of the poor "selflessly" and "without compromise" for years by remaining in the inaccessible areas. "We may have different views about the path you have chosen to continue this battle for the poor, but we have no doubt in our minds on your sincerity and feeling," the appeal stated. 

"As a fighter endangering your lives you have made impact on many, but there are still many others who are fighting for the poor keeping themselves away from the path of violence. It is time we strengthened such a mass movement," it added. 

The appeal cited the examples of Marx, Mao and Gandhi and said their goals were same though the means they adopted were different. Citing the achievement of Gandhiji, they said a "half-naked fakir could prove to be world's most powerful man as he succeeded in ousting the most powerful imperialistic government from India and that the path of non-violence he adopted to achieve his goal had influenced many world leaders like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Suki in neighbouring Myanmar". 

They urged Sabyasachi to begin a "second mass movement" by following the ideals of Gandhi, Vinobha, Jayaprakash, Lohia and Ambedkar by giving up violence. 

The appeal coming just a few days after the recent massive security operations against Sabyasachi in the intractable forest areas of Ganjam, Gajapati and Kandhamal district is seen with significance, fuelling speculation about his possible surrender. 

Police sources said Panda at present has not more than 30 active cadres with him including 15-20 armed persons. He is currently facing the double threat to his life both from the rivals in his estranged party and security forces. With much of his strength reduced over the years, it is said Panda has been desperate to surrender, though he has time and again stated his mind to the contrary.

According to the police sources, there are as many 30 cases pending against Panda, which include the killing of Laxmanananda Saraswati, Nayagarh armory loot and kidnapping two Italians, etc.

However, the civil society members have assured in their representation to convince the government to allow Panda to live a peaceful life for the cause of the poor with his followers.

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