MALKANGIRI: The Andhra Pradesh Greyhounds have launched an extensive combing operation in Ramgad forest in the cut-off region of the district bordering Orissa to nab the Maoists who had fled after the October 24 Bejing encounter. As many as 30 rebels were killed in the encounter. The search operation follows strategic inputs from the Intelligence that the Maoists are making a tactical retreat to safe zones after the encounter.
Meanwhile, suspense prevailed over the whereabouts of top Maoist Central Committee leader Akkiraju Hargopal alias RK, who carries a combined reward of over `one crore on his head in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
On the other hand, rebel leaders claimed that the top leader is in police custody, a claim the AP police has refuted. “We are not sure where RK is,” said a senior officer on conditions of anonymity. The dense forest in the cut-off region has turned into an impregnable fortress of the rebels over the years because of its remoteness and absence of road connectivity to the mainland except the launch service.
The intensified search operation in Ramgad and Panasput forest has left the locals panicked as a war like situation prevails in those areas after the rebels threatened to take the revenge of the encounter.
With their movement restricted, the tribal inhabitants of the forest are the worst sufferers. Caught between the rebels and the police, the tribal families are leading a miserable life as they have not been allowed to venture into the forest for collecting minor forest produce, which is their main source of livelihood, sources said.