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Maoists strike big in Vizag, gun down Araku MLA, aide

The incident occurred when the two leaders were on way to the interior tribal village, 20 km from the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB), to attend the TDP’s Grama Darshini programme.

Published: 24th September 2018 07:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th September 2018 03:13 PM   |  A+A-

Officials pay tribute to Araku TDP MLA Kidari Sarvesvara Rao who was shot dead by Maoists at Dumbriguda. ( Photo | Special arrangement)

Express News Service

VISAKHAPATNAM: In a surprise attack, a group of CPI (Maoist) members shot dead Araku MLA Kideri Sarveswara Rao and his close associate and former MLA Siveri Soma, both belonging to the ruling TDP, at Lipittuputtu village in Tottangi Panchayat, Dumbriguda mandal, Visakhapatnam Agency, on Sunday.

This is the biggest such Maoist attack in AP in decades.

The incident occurred when the two leaders were on way to the interior tribal village, about 15 km from Araku valley and 20 km from the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB), to attend the TDP’s Grama Darshini programme. Sarveswara Rao is survived by his wife and two sons.

About 40 to 50 armed Maoists  along with their ‘action’ team that specialises in attacks, intercepted the legislator and his followers’ vehicles at Lipittuputtu around 12 pm.  Eyewitnesses, including K Chitti Babu, driver of Siveri Soma, told reporters that the Maoists surrounded their vehicles and ordered them to get down before forcibly taking away the MLA and the former MLA to a nearby place.

“The Maoists confiscated the weapons of the MLA’s gunmen. They tied the hands of the MLA and the former MLA and took them to an isolated spot. After speaking to them for about 30 minutes, they opened fire. We heard gunshots. We were unable to step forward as we were surrounded with the Maoists pointing guns at us. They threatened to shoot us if we dared move,” Chitti Babu explained.

The attack sent shockwaves throughout the police establishment, which had hitherto been claiming to have neutralised the Maoist menace in the State. Soon after the attack, the Maoists reportedly returned to the Odisha side of the AOB.

Later in the afternoon, DIG (Visakha Range) Ch Srikanth put up a brave face, claiming they had been on alert and had even sent alerts to the rural police in view of the CPI (Maoist) Formation Week celebrations, which began on September 21. Police sources unofficially claimed that the legislator did not inform them of his visit to the interior village.

Terming the attack unfortunate, Srikanth also recalled that they had advised all local leaders, especially in the Agency area, to be cautious and asserted that steps were being taken to avoid further Maoist violence.

Holding the police responsible for the death of the two leaders, their enraged followers attacked Dumbriguda and Araku police stations, and set them on fire. They also thrashed the police personnel who took to their heels and destroyed police vehicles. The entire region was tense when reports last came in. Sarveswara Rao, who won as YSRC MLA in the 2014 elections, defected to the TDP in April 2016. He was appointed government whip in November 2017. Former MLA Siveri Soma won on a TDP ticket from Araku in 2009.

The reason for the attack on Sarveswara  Rao is yet to be ascertained by the police, but it is a known fact that he had received several threats from Maoists in the last four years over bauxite mining in the Agency area as well as a black metal quarry in Paderu region that belongs to B Rajendra Prasad, his brother-in-law. There have been allegations that mining was causing health problems to the tribals and damaging houses apart from 150 acres of cultivable land, which turned barren with borewells drying up. The Maoists had, in their threat letters to him, accused him of diverting/using up water for the quarry. Following the attack, the Maoists did not issue any letter claiming responsibility.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and DGP RP Thakur, who are on a visit to the US, expressed shock over the incident. ADG (Law & Order) Harish Kumar Gupta rushed to Visakhapatnam from Vijayawada to review the situation. Additional forces have been rushed and combing operations launched in the Agency area to nab the Maoists.

 



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