A Rashtriya Swayam Sevak leader, who was arrested in connection with anti-Christian riots last year, was gunned down by suspected Maoists in Orissa's communally sensitive Kandhamal district early on Thursday.
Approximately 15 armed ultras struck Rudiguma village, about 145 km from Phulbani, in the wee hours of Thursday and shot dead Prabhat Panigrahi, who was staying at an RSS activist's house, police said.
A massive combing operation has been launched to nab the assailants. Additional forces have been deployed in and around the village as a precautionary measure to prevent any untoward incident.
As the Maoists had blocked the road between Kotagada and Rudiguma by felling trees, the police took a long time to reach the spot after clearing the road, the police said.
Panigrahi had been arrested for alleged involvement in the communal riots that had rocked Kandhamal after the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others on August 23, 2008, sources said. He had been released from Baliguda jail on bail on March 14.