Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Maoist leader Mallojula Koteswara Rao a prize catch

19 Dec 2007, 0228 hrs IST,G Arun Kumar,TNN

HYDERABAD: The Maoist party never had it so bad what with a series of arrests of top leaders in the last fortnight and among all those arrested NFDC secretary Sagar is turning out to be the trump card for the AP police, especially SIB.

The latest arrest of Maoist central committee leader and politburo member Malla Raji Reddy alias Sattenna (55) in Kerala has come as a prize catch for the SIB as Raji Reddy is among the top 5 in the all-India Maoist hierarchy.
Unlike in the past, the government is treading cautiously on the issue of encounters with the talk of elections gaining ground in the state. Sources told TOI that the government cannot take chances by earning a bad name in the eyes of the public.

The fact that the chief minister and the home minister have assured that Raji Reddy will be produced in court reveals that the government is treading cautiously on the issue.

Some time ago a Maoist leader who was arrested in Kollam by the AP police was later killed in an ‘encounter’, which created a lot of furore. "Now, the intelligence sleuths have changed tack. The arrest of Raji Reddy would not have been possible without Sagar providing vital clues to the sleuths. Apart from assuring Sagar that no harm will be done to him, they are culling out as much information as possible about Maoist leaders," a top police official involved in anti-naxal operations said.

Considered to be a close aide of top Maoist leader Ganapathi, Raji Reddy was involved in framing party strategies and counter-offensive tactics.

Younger brother of another top leader Mallojula Koteswara Rao, Raji Reddy was picked up by a special party police team of AP near Ernakulam around 7.30 pm on Sunday. Police sources said Raji Reddy was hiding among migrant labourers when he was arrested.

Not only was Raji Reddy carrying out important operations in the Dandakaranya region, he was involved in a number of attacks on police stations, looting of weapons, murders, abductions and landmine blasts in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.

He carries a reward of Rs 15 lakh on his head. Hailing from Shastrulapally village of Manthani mandal in Karimnagar district, Raji Reddy went underground in 1977.

Writer and Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao said though the government has assured that no harm will be done to Raji Reddy, he demanded that the veteran leader be produced before court immediately. Sources told TOI that intelligence sleuths would interrogate Raji Reddy before producing him in court.

Stoutly disputing that the Maoist movement will be weakened with the arrest of Raji Reddy, Varavara says: "Leaders may come and go. The same was said when central committee members Sande Rajamouli and Chandramouli were arrested and bumped off in fake encounters. The movement for land for poor will go on irrespective of leaders".

However, another top police officer said Raji Reddy’s arrest is a major setback to the party as decision-making will be severely hampered at the top level. He said the latest arrest has come as a shot in the arm for police.

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