Bhubaneswar, March 11 (IANS) A Maoist leader wanted in more than 45 criminal cases including several murders was killed in a fierce gun battle with police in Odisha's Gajapati district Monday, an official said.
Based on a tip off on Maoist presence, police raided a forested area near Mohana, about 400 km from here, Sunday night, and retaliated when the guerrillas opened fire, C.S. Meena, district superintendent of police, told IANS.
Pradip alias Gobinda Majhi was killed in the exchange of fire that lasted till Monday morning, he said.
Although the rebels fled to the nearby forest, police recovered the body of 28-year-old Majhi. The weapons recovered from the site include a gun, one pistol and two loaded magazines, he said.
Majhi, who was considered second-in-command in the Maoist group led by the state's most wanted rebel leader Sabyasachi Panda, was operating in the districts of Rayagada, Gajapati, Ganjam and Kandhamal.
At least 45 criminal cases are pending against him, including cases of murder, abduction and rioting, the police official said.
More than half of the state is Maoist-affected.
The districts of Rayagada, Gajapati, Ganjam and Kandhamal are considered Maoist strongholds.