The CMAS leader, who has remained underground since November 2009, decided not to appear in public apprehending arrest at the hands of para-military forces before he could surrender in court.

Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) leader Nachika Linga, who has been underground for more than four years, failed to appear in public as was speculated due to heavy deployment of para-military forces in an around Balipeta panchayat in Narayanpatna block of Odisha’s Koraput district on Tuesday.

Mr. Linga was to address a meeting of his supporters at Balipeta, after which he was to appear before a court at Laxmipur, about 30 km away.

A team of social activists and journalists, who went to bring Mr. Linga to the venue of the meeting from his hideout, told the gathering that Mr. Linga decided not to appear in public apprehending arrest at the hands of para-military forces before he could reach the court.

The CMAS leader has remained underground since November 2009, following a clash between CMAS activists and police at Narayanpatna police station in which two of Mr. Linga’s associates were killed. Though the team of activists had earlier informed the State Director General of Police that Mr. Linga was likely to appear before the court at Laxmipur, there was no sign of any district police at Balipeta.

Despite deployment of para-military forces and personnel of Special Operations Group, hundreds of supporters of Mr. Linga and a large number of media persons had gathered at Balipeta.

Had Mr. Linga been able to surrender before the Laxmipur court, which had issued several warrants against him, it was speculated that he was also likely to contest the coming assembly elections from Laxmipur assembly segment in an attempt to join the social mainstream.

The CMAS, under the leadership of Mr. Linga, has been spearheading the agitation of tribals in Narayanpatna block for land rights and other issues related to development.

About 2000 para-military personnel have been deployed in Narayanpatna block since 2010 to counter Maoist activities in the area. Though the police had earlier alleged that Mr. Linga had Maoist links, the social activists who interacted with him on Tuesday told the gathering at Balipeta that he had no relations with left wing extremists.

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