Govt seeks police opinion for release of Ghasi

Bhubaneswar: With the abductors of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka demanding release of hardcore Naxal Chenda Bhusanam alias Ghasi, an accused in the killing of at least 55 security personnel, the Odisha government has sought opinion of the state police on the matter. "We have sought opinion of the police on whether the fresh demands made by the abductors of the MLA could be met," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik told reporters here adding that the legal aspects need to be verified before taking any decision.

The Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) of the CPI (Maoist), which abducted Hikaka on March 24, in a fresh demand asked the state government to release five more persons including Ghasi to ensure safe release of the MLA.

Besides six major incidents of Naxal violence including murder, Ghasi alias Khatru alias Nagaraja alias Yusu alias Balna alias Balaredy alias Doctor had also been accused in 35 other cases in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra Pradesh government had announced Rs 10 lakh for the arrest of Ghasi, a state committee member of AOBSZC, a senior police officer said adding he was involved in Alampaka attack in Balimela reservoir in which 38 police men were killed. "Ghasi is also one of the main accused in the killing of 17 police personnel in a landmine blast in Kalimela area in Malkangiri district," the official said. He was arrested by Odisha Police at Semiliguda area on April 4, 2011.

Ghasi (about 40), presently lodged at Koraput jail, was involved in all major Naxal violence in the state, particularly in Malkangiri and Koraput districts. "Release of Ghasi may give a wrong signal affecting security personnel engaged in anti-maoist operation," former director-general of police Gopal Nanda told reporters. "It requires a lot of efforts to capture a rebel like Ghasi. His release may endanger lives of more policemen," a police officer instrumental in Ghasi`s arrest said.

Besides Ghasi, Maoists want release of four members of naxal backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS). Its advisor Gananath Patra, now in jail, is said to be responsible for Lalgarh like situation in Narayanpatna area. Sonu Pangi, another Maoist whose release is demanded by the AOBSZC, is the president of Biplabi Mahila Sangha. Wadeka Walsi is the organiser of Nari Sangha of CMAS and Singha Nachika has been an active member of the CMAS.

Earlier, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had already announced in the assembly that the state government would facilitate release of 23 persons including eight Maoists, for safe release of the Laxmipur MLA.