Massive anti-Maoist operations launched on Andhra-Odisha border

Visakhapatnam: A day after Maoists gunned down a sitting MLA and a former legislator, personnel of the elite Greyhounds anti-Maoist force and the CRPF launched a massive combing operation in the tribal areas of Visakhapatnam district on Monday.

The Andhra Pradesh Police Greyhounds and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers combed the tribal belt along the inter-state border with Odisha to flush out the insurgents.

About 50-60 Maoists, including women had participated in Sunday’s attack near Lipittuputtu village, about 15 km from the Odisha border.

They gunned down K. Sarveswara Rao, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA from Araku (Reserved-Scheduled Tribe) and his party colleague and former MLA Siveri Soma.

The armed guerillas intercepted the TDP leaders’ vehicles and shot them dead after snatching weapons from their security guards.

As the first major attack on legislators in more than a decade shocked the state administration, top police officers rushed to the region to redraw their strategy to counter Maoists.

Director General of Police R.P. Thakur was monitoring the situation. A team headed by Visakhapatnam Deputy Commissioner of Police K. Fakeerappa, probing Sunday’s incident, on Monday visited the scene along with Visakhapatnam Rural Superintendent of Police, Rahul Dev Sharma.

The team spoke to the eye-witnesses and the villagers.

In a related development, the DGP has ordered the suspension of Amman Rao, Sub-Inspector of Dumbriguda police station for dereliction of duty. The action came amid allegations by the supporters of the slain leaders that the police failed to protect them.

The villagers on Sunday staged violent protests against the alleged police negligence. They ransacked Dumbriguda and Araku police stations and attacked police personnel.

An autopsy on the bodies of Rao and Soma were conducted at the government-run hospital in Araku late on Sunday. The body of the MLA was shifted to Paderu and that of Soma to his native Battivalasa. Their last rites would be performed with state honours later in the day.

The tribal region remained tense with huge deployment of police force and a two-day shutdown called by the supporters of the slain leaders.

The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) suspended bus services while shops and business establishments remained closed.

Araku Valley, the tourist hotspot about 100 km from the coastal city, wore a deserted look on Monday with transport and tourism operators suspending their services.

As some state ministers and TDP leaders were scheduled to take part in the MLA’s funeral, the security agencies were making arrangements to ferry them in a helicopter from Visakhapatnam to Paderu in view of the prevailing condition in the area.

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