Police gun down top Maoist leaders in Andhra Pradesh (Lead)May 24th, 2009 - 5:50 pm ICT by IANS
Hyderabad, May 24 (IANS) The Andhra Pradesh police Sunday gunned down two top Maoist leaders, including one allegedly involved in 2003 assassination attempt on former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
Patel Sudhakar Reddy, central committee and central military commission member, and K. Venkataiah, state committee member of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)were killed in a gun battle with the police in Tadvai forests in Warangal district, police said.
Sudhakar Reddy was one of the most wanted Maoist leader carrying a reward of Rs.1.2 million for his capture.
On a tip-off about the presence of few guerrillas in the area to attend a meeting, the policemen launched combing operations in the forests. Police said a gun battle ensued Sunday morning and the two guerrillas were killed.
Police recovered an AK 47 rifle, an 8 mm rifle, a .99 mm pistol and three kitbags from the scene of the battle.
The police claimed that the personnel engaged in combing operations spotted a group of about 20 armed Maoists. “An exchange of fire took place around 5.30 a.m. in which two Maoists were killed,” said district Superintendent of Police V.C. Sajjanar.
The remaining Maoists managed to escape deep into the forests, he said.
The police official said they had prior information that Maoists were trying to revive the movement in the north Telangana region, their former stronghold.
Sajjanar said the Maoists were focussing on the region after carrying out several attacks in the neighbouring states.
There were no casualties on the police side, which prompted the family members of slain rebels and Maoist sympathisers to allege that it was a stage-managed gunbattle. They alleged that the leaders were arrested at some other place and were shot dead in cold blood.
Sudhakar Reddy’s killing has come as a big blow to the Maoist movement, especially in Andhra Pradesh where it is on the wane due to a series of killings of top Maoist leaders and cadres in police operations.
Known as a key strategist, who planed attacks with the help of a lap-top, Sudhakar Reddy masterminded the assassination attempt on then chief minister Naidu at Alipiri near Tirupati in 2003.
He was also an accused in the killing of then state minister A. Madhava Reddy in 1999 and senior police officials Vyas and Mahesh Chandra in and around the state capital.
A gold medalist in post graduation from Osmania University, Sudhakar Reddy was the intellectual leader of CPI (Maoist), the most dreaded Maoist organisation active in nearly a dozen states in India.
Hailing from Mahabubnagar district, the 40-year-old was considered an expert in guerrilla warfare and claymore mine attacks. He was also the mastermind behind several attacks on police stations in the state during the last decade.
He was working as incharge of Maoist movement in Karnataka and is believed to have arrived in Warangal district three days ago from Bangalore. Police suspect that he was planning a major strike in Andhra Pradesh to revive Maoist activities in their former stronghold.
While studying at Osmania University here in 1982, he got attracted towards Maoist movement. He later went underground and worked as ‘dalam’ or armed squad commander, district and state committee member and central military committee member. He also worked to strengthen the outfit in Chhattisgarh.
Sudhakar Reddy, who escaped narrowly during police operations on few occasions in the past, married Durga, also a Maoist. She had surrendered to police six months ago on health grounds.
The CPI-Maoist has lost over 400 cadres, including several key leaders in the state, since the first-ever direct peace talks with the government collapsed in early 2005.
The police, especially the elite anti-Maoist force Greyhounds, achieved many successes in their operations. Hundreds of Maoists have also been arrested or have surrendered during the last four years.
The police claimed the Maoist violence touched the lowest ebb ever in the state with 30 percent decline in extremist activities during 2008.
More than 6,000 people have been killed in Maoist violence in the state since 1969, when Srikakulam district witnessed the first armed uprising by landless peasants.
The state has been a traditional stronghold of the Maoists, who claim to be fighting for the poor and oppressed in the rural areas.