Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Red alert in Andhra Pradesh

Sreenivas Janyala Posted online: Wednesday, Apr 21, 2010 at 2346 hrs

Hyderabad : T0 disprove the notion that they have been defeated in Andhra Pradesh, Maoists are planning to launch sensational strikes in the state. Officials involved in anti-Naxal operations here say that after a string of successes in Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand, where they have taken control of large swathes of land, the Maoists are preparing to return to Andhra to re-assert themselves and regain some of the lost ground.

“Now that they are emboldened and are on a high, they will try to do something sensational in Andhra to disprove the notion that Maoists have been defeated in the state. The CPI(Maoist) is under pressure to assert their existence here. At present, they have almost been driven out of the state although a few hundred cadres roam the Andhra-Orissa border. Our inputs suggest that to re-establish and re-build their organisation here, they are going to launch a few sensational strikes which would not only create terror but also make the statement that they are back with a bang,” says DGP Girish Kumar.

“It is going to be something big and sensational. Andhra has eight districts which share a border with the worst-affected areas of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Maharashtra. Boosted by their achievements there, they are turning their attention to Andhra,” says an official of the Special Intelligence Branch.

For over four decades, Andhra was home to the Maoists, who had turned several districts into their fortresses. By 1985, the government had declared 21 of the state’s 23 districts as affected by Left wing insurgency. In 1989, Greyhounds, an elite commando force was established. Specially trained in jungle warfare and guerilla tactics, the Greyhounds are credited with almost wiping out the Maoist menace in the state.

Officials say that the senior leadership of the CPI (Maoists) operating in the insurgency-affected states, who are mostly from Andhra, are also under pressure to re-build the strong base they once had back home. Intelligence officials say the Maoists have formed action teams to infiltrate the border districts and spread out into the state.

“They will prepare the action plan and identify targets. Till now the hit-and-run teams have been creating trouble in the border districts. But now, we feel they will hit closer home in Hyderabad,” says an official. And to create a bigger sensation, the Maoists may link the Telangana issue with their target. Director General of Police (DGP) R R Girish Kumar has asked district police officers to alert leaders who are opposed to the formation of a separate Telangana state. “We have alerted certain leaders who have taken an anti-Telangana stance. They are vulnerable to attacks by Maoists at a time when they want to re-establish themselves in the state,” says the DGP.

Officials say some Maoist leaders who were active in Andhra earlier have returned to the state, backed by armed teams, to launch some action. Solipeta Kondal Reddy, secretary of the CPI(Maoist)’s South Telangana zonal committee, and Shakamuri Papa Rao, a CPI(Maoist) central committee member, who were allegedly shot dead in encounters on March 11, were on a mission to revive old networks of sympathisers and informers in the border districts and Nallamalla forests.

The Maoists have also devised new strategies. Their hideouts are no longer in the forests and tribal villages. “They have started using thickly-populated urban areas to store arms and ammunition. Their shelters and hideouts are rented houses or flats in cities. They have shed camouflage fatigues for normal attire so that they don’t draw attention,” informs an official.

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