Maoist leaders Panda, Mohanty call off hunger strike

Berhampur: Maoist leaders Sabyasachi Panda and Dandapani Mohanty, who launched a hunger strike in the circle jail here, have called off their fast today following requests from several right activists.

Panda, protesting against his solitary confinement and alleging blocking of his letters to the courts by the jail authorities, had relaunched his hunger strike on Wednesday for the third time in a month, senior superintendent of the circle jail Raghunath Majhi said.

Panda was also demanding that he should be provided the list of cases pending against him in different police stations, his advocate said.

“He (Panda) called off his hunger strike following the request of some right activists. The activists also promised to take up the demands with the government,” said Panda’s advocate Deepak Patnaik.

The Maoist leader, who carried a Rs five lakh cash reward on his head, had resorted to hunger strike in the jail from March 31 to April 4 to press for his demands.

He had once again launched the agitation in prison from April 22 when the government did not redress his grievances,following which he had to be admitted to hospital due to his deteriorating health.

Panda called off his hunger strike at the moment. He was discharged on Tuesday and on his return to jail, he relaunched it for an indefinite period on Wednesday, Patnaik said.

Meanwhile, Mohanty, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in Maoist activities, resorted to hunger strike in the jail from April 24 demanding political prisoner status considering his past activities, senior superintendent Majhi said.

He is currently admitted to MKCG Medical College and Hospital after his health condition worsened. He was being fed intravenously as he refused to give up his fast, Manjhi said.

“Giving due respect to my well-wishers and advice from doctors for further treatment, I called off my hunger strike,” said 64-year-old Mohanty, adding “I hope the government will fulfill my demand.”

After calling off his strike, Panda was produced in the sub-divisional judicial magistrate court here during the day in connection with an arms case.