Maoists kill 2 TDP MLAs in Andhra Pradesh's Araku Valley: 'It could have been a message for Centre for arresting Varavara Rao'
A large number of Maoists allegedly took part in the shooting of TDP leaders K Sarveswara Rao and Siveri Soma in Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam.
Two leaders of the Telugu Desam Party, sitting MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and former legislator Siveri Soma, were shot dead allegedly by Communist Party of India (Maoist) members in Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam district on Sunday.
Visakhapatnam: #Visuals from the spot where TDP leaders Kidari Sarveswara Rao & Siveri Soma, present and former MLA from Araku respectively, were shot dead by Naxals today. #AndhraPradesh pic.twitter.com/RoFBBHQUK7
— ANI (@ANI) September 23, 2018
Both Rao and Soma, who were travelling with a few supporters, had gone to the Araku Valley when the Maoists shot them dead. According to The NewsMinute, the assailants stopped their vehicle and shot them at point blank range. A large number of Maoists allegedly participated in the attack.
After ordering others to leave, they began talking to the MLA and the former MLA about the mining in agency areas. They later pumped bullets into the two leaders, killing them on the spot. Both were shot in the head and chest.
"A group of Maoists came along with the villagers and blocked the MLA's car. As the personal security officers of the legislator and the ex-legislator got down, they snatched the AK-47 rifles from them and shot Sarveswara Rao and Soma dead," Visakhapatnam Range Deputy Inspector General of Police Ch Srikanth told PTI. He said the exact number of Maoists involved in the attack and the reasons for shooting down the legislator were being ascertained.
Both reportedly died on the spot. The Maoists later used human shields to escape from the spot with weapons, NDTV reported.
The Indian Express quoted tribal leaders who said that the attack has come after arrest of activists like P Varavara Rao. "The Maoists wanted to make a statement because the Andhra Pradesh government has been claiming that Maoists have been eradicated from the state. The ruling party MLA and former MLA became soft targets of a counter attack. Maoists may have also wanted to send a message to the Centre after the arrest of P Varavara Rao and other activists. The Maoists declared formation day celebrations from 22-27 September and I think they wanted to carry out a big operation and announce their presence," Andhra Pradesh Girijana Sangham Secretary P Appalanarasa told The Indian Express.
The incident occurred in Thutangi village in Visakhapatnam district's Dumbriguda Mandal. Rao was believed to have been on the Maoist hit-list. According to the police, both Rao and Soma had received threats from Maoists in the past.
Police sources suspect that a group of about 50-60 outlaws led by Maoists Andhra-Odisha Border Committee secretary Ramakrishna could be involved in the deadly attack.
Both TDP leaders were legislators from the Araku constituency. Rao was elected from Araku, a constituency reserved for candidates from Scheduled Tribe communities, on a YSR Congress Party ticket in the 2014 elections, defeating the TDP's Soma. In 2016, Rao switched loyalties to the TDP.
Araku Valley is known to be the operational base of Maoist leader Haragopal, alias RK, reported India Today. Sunday's attack also came a few days after the formation day (21 September) of the CPI (Maoist).
Relatives of slain leaders attack police stations
Tension prevailed in Araku constituency as relatives and supporters of the two TDP leaders attacked two police stations.
Accusing the police of "failing" to protect the public representatives, the protestors ransacked Araku and Dumbriguda police stations and set afire the furniture and other articles lying there.
After the relatives and supporters of the slain leaders attacked Dumbriguda police station while blaming police for negligence, they set afire vehicles seized by the police in various cases and parked in the premises.
Chandrababu Naidu condemns attack
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu condemned the attack and expressed his shock. Praising the deceased MLAs' contributions, he said: "Such attacks and murders are a blot on humanity. All believers of democracy should condemn this attack. Kidari's and Siveri's efforts for the development of tribals and agency areas are unique," India Today reported.
While Maoist influence in the state has been on the decline over the past few years, they still have a stronghold in the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border region.
Governor ELS Narasimhan expresses shock
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor ESL Narasimhan expressed his shock and sorrow at the killing of a sitting MLA and a former legislator by Maoists in Visakhapatnam district.
In a condolence message, the Governor conveyed his condolences to the families of the two TDP leaders who were killed.
With inputs from agencies
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Speaking at the preparatory meeting for the Global Investors Summit to be held in Visakhapatnam in March, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said he also would be shifting his office to the port city in the months to come