Six Maoist insurgents, three of them women, killed in Andhra Pradesh

Published : June 17, 2021 17:33 IST

A file picture of Greyhounds during combing operation against Maoist insurgents at a village in Visakhapatnam district. Photo: C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Six Maoist insurgents, including two divisional committee members, were killed in an exchange of fire with the Greyhounds police special forces inside the Teegalametta forests in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam district on June 16. Among the six insurgents who were gunned down, three were women. Two of them identified as Lalitha from Teemulabanda village in the GK Veedhi mandal in Visakhapatnam district and Paike from Chhattisgarh. The police are yet to determine the identity of the third woman.

The encounter between the Greyhounds and the Maoists comes after nearly four years of relative calm in Andhra Pradesh, a period during which increased patrolling and combing operations had kept Maoist activity at bay.

Talking to Frontline, police sources disclosed that at the time of the shooting, there were around 25 Maoists, most of them belonging to the Galikonda area committee and the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The police officers also disclosed that several Maoists suffered injuries, but managed to escape from the encounter site. According to Boddepalli Krishna Rao, Superintendent of Police Visakha Rural, the encounter site was in the vicinity of the villages of U. Cheedipalem and Palakajidi, around 10 kilometres from the Mampa police station. A large cache of weapons, including an AK-47, a carbine, .303 rifles, one tapancha (pistol) and a few country-made weapons, besides literature, kit bags, explosive materials were seized from the site of the encounter.

The encounter took place when the Greyhounds, after receiving reliable and specific information about the presence of some top Maoist leaders in the Teegalametta forests, undertook combing operations to apprehend the insurgents. Besides the three women insurgents, the other three who were fatally shot were divisional committee members Ranadev, also known as Arjun of the Kalimela squad, and Sande Gangaiah alias Ashok from Gumpula village in Odelu mandal in Peddapalli district of Telangana, and area committee member Santu Nachika from Koraput district in neighbouring Odisha. Gangaiah is alleged to have been a member of the CPI (Maoist team) medical team. The police have rushed additional forces to the area and intensified combing operations.

The June 16 shootout comes a day after Maoists allegedly exchanged fire with the Odisha Police near Kulabeda village, situated on the border of Odisha’s southernmost districts Malkangiri and Koraput. The Greyhounds had received information that the Maoists had managed to escape after the shootout and were believed to be hiding in the Teegalametta forests in Andhra Pradesh. The incident also comes in the wake of several Maoist leaders in the Andhra-Odisha and Telangana-Chhattisgarh border areas trying to sneak into towns and cities in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh seeking treatment for COVID-19.

Police sources told Frontline that on March 5, the Maoists had shot a former “militia member” dead believing he was a police informer, in Kothapalem village in GK Veedhi mandal in Visakhapatnam district. Protests had followed, with the protesting tribals burning effigies of Maoist leaders.

The last major Maoist attack in Andhra Pradesh took place in September 2018, when Kidari Sarveswara Rao, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislator from Araku Valley in Visakhapatnam district, was gunned down by a group owing allegiance to the CPI (Maoist)’s Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee. Siveri Soma, a former TDP legislator and a close friend of Rao’s, was also killed in that attack.