Court acquits Maoist leader, accomplice in one arson case

Berhampur: A local court in Ganjam district today acquitted arrested top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda and a co-accused of the charges of setting afire an earthmover machine of a contractor two years back at Alikua village.

Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) D K Satapathy acquitted the Maoist leader on the ground of lack of proper investigation in the case.

The court also acquitted Sangram Moanty, son of Dandapani Mohanty, convenor, Jana Adhikara Manch (JAM) who was also the co-accused in the case and already on bail.

The court pronounced the judgment after recording the statements of 14 witnesses.

While the incident took place in March 2012, police registered a case against the Maoist leader on January 4, 2013, about 10 months after the incident.

Fire brigade officials said that the machine could have been burnt due to an electric-short circuit but police charge-sheeted that Maoists had set fire to the machine.

It was the second case in which Panda had been acquitted.

On July 1, he was acquitted of the charge of posessing firearms by the court of the Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) here.

It was the fourth case, where the court acquitted Sangram, already out on bail following a Supreme Court directive.

Panda was arrested from Bada Bazara area in the town on July 18 last year while Sangram was apprehended near Kamalapur in Gajapati district on December 5, 2012 on the charge of being involved in 19 Maoist-related cases in Gajapati and Ganjam districts.

Around 100 cases were pending against Panda in the area.

Sangram was released from jail on February 9 when the Supreme Court granted his bail petition.