Odisha Police Sunday claimed to have killed wanted Maoist Sushil alias Basant alias Puttapaka Kumaraswamy of Warangal district and his wife Sony alias Sindri Lingo of Vishakhapatnam, in a forest encounter along the border of the state’s Angul and Deogarh districts.
The encounter took place after the Special Operations Group (SOG), a specialised anti-Maoist force, and local police came under fire from the Maoists during a combing operation, police officials said.
“After an exchange of fire we managed to kill Susil and his wife… He is the highest-ranking Maoist to be killed in an encounter in Odisha,” said Inspector General (anti-Maoist operations) Soumendra Priyadarsi.
Sushil was an accused in 78 cases of Maoist violence in Odisha and unified Andhra Pradesh, registered over 15 years. He had at least 30 cases of murder against him. In the past year, he was accused of killing three persons including a police informer. While he carried a cash reward of Rs 20 lakh against his name, his wife had a reward of Rs 5 lakh. Police officials said an INSAS rifle, a Sten carbine and a large quantity of ammunition were found near the bodies.
Sushil, who was a member of the Odisha state organising committee, was in 2008-09 made the divisional secretary of Kalinganagar divisional committee, which was created to start Maoist activities in the industrial and mineral-rich districts of Jajpur, Keonjhar, Angul and Dhenkanal, police said. The division was started nearly two years after 13 tribals were killed in police firing while protesting against the setting up of a Tata Steel plant in Kalinganagar area of Jajpur district in January 2006.
In 2010, he abducted ASI Umesh Marandi of Jajpur’s Daitari police station and released him 10 days later. As the industrial hub had good road and rail connectivity, the Maoists counted the area as a safe corridor from Jharkhand. Police officials said that with Sushil’s death, the Maoist experiment in starting unrest in Kalinganagar had taken a severe hit.