The Chhattisgarh High Court has ordered the police to produce Podiyam Panda, a “surrendered” Maoist, before it on Monday. A division bench of justices Pritinker Diwaker and Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant gave this directive yesterday while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Panda’s wife Podiyam Muiye. Habeas corpus relates to a plea for a court direction to produce a person who has been detained. According to Muiye, the police had illegally taken Panda into custody on May 3.
When she did not get any information on whereabouts of her husband for the next 10 days, she, along with relatives, filed the petition in the high court on May 12, her lawyer Shalini Gera said. Panda is an ex-sarpanch of Chintagufa village in Sukma district, while his wife currently holds that post.
During yesterday’s hearing, Advocate General J K Gilda argued that Podiyam was not arrested by the police. Rather, he “surrendered” before the Sukma police and admitted he was a Maoist. Panda’s wife and relatives were present in the court during the hearing. After hearing the arguments, the court asked the police to produce Panda before it on Monday (May 22).
Notably, the Sukma Superintendent of Police had presented Panda before the media on May 17 and claimed he had surrendered on May 9.
According to the police, Panda was involved in several high-profile attacks carried out by Naxals in the state. These included the assault on CRPF personnel in Burkapal area of Sukma last month and the massacre of 76 troopers at Tadmetla (then in Dantewada district) in 2010.
Twenty-five CRPF men were killed in the April 24 attack in Sukma.