Podiyam Panda, a Maoist operative who has surrendered to the police and confessed to being part of the attack on Central Reserve Police Force in Sukma and 2010 Tadmetla massacre, said in a press conference in Raipur that he acted as a link between Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar and top Maoist commanders.
Panda, who reportedly surrendered on 9 May after being underground for over 20 years, said that he acted as a courier for the two sides. He claimed to have driven professor Sundar on a motorbike into forests of Sukma for meetings with top Maoists like Ramanna, Hidma Paparao Aaytu, Arjun and others.
Professor Sundar and 10 others were booked for the murder of a tribal in Sukma in 2016. Sundar was named in a complaint by the wife of Shamnath Baghel, a man who was killed by Maoists in his village in Bastar region. In November 2016, Inspector General of Police in Bastar, S R P Kalluri, said the agencies investigating the case have evidence and documents to suggest that professor Sundar was involved.
Locals in Sukma have repeatedly accused professor Sundar and other activists of inciting tribals against the government and seeking their support for Maoists. She has also been accused of threatening villagers to not oppose Maoists after they formed a local group called “Tangiya (axe) group” in April 2016.
However, Professor Sundar has repeatedly refuted these claims, saying that that complaint filed against her and other ‘rights activists’ was a part of police's vendetta.
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