28 October, Visakhapatnam
The death toll in the encounter between the banned Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the joint force of Andhra Pradesh Greyhounds and Odisha’s Special Operation Group in the dense forest area near Pansaput in Malkangiri district of Odisha, bordering Andhra Pradesh on Monday, mounted to 30, while two rebels were killed at the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB).
Police faced a charge from the rights activists that they were holding party’s important leader Akkiraju Haragopal, alias Ramakrishna, alias RK, and another top leader Uday from Odisha. Twenty-four leaders and cadre of the banned Communist Party of India (Marxist) were killed in an exchange of fire on Monday, while four were killed a day ago as police were scouring the area and two more were gunned down, late last night.
District Superintendent of Police Rahul Dev Sharma told UNI here today that two weapons were also recovered from the scene, but the identity of the duo could not be established immediately. The bodies were shifted to Malkangiri.
Rights activists and revolutionary writer Varavara Rao, Kalyana Rao, G Haragopal and others alleged that police were holding RK and some others in their custody and demanded that no harm should be done to them.
However, when contacted, Mr Sharma, who has returned from Malkangiri, said there was no truth in the allegation. “It is only a ploy to shift the leaders and others who are hiding after the exchange of fire or injured in it, to a safe place. If he were really in our custody we would have certainly revealed the fact. If he is injured we will provide good medical help like we have extended to two Maoists injured in an exchange of fire recently.
Varavara Rao might have made the charge against us as he did not get information from RK on his status and about others through their own channels and tried this way,” Mr. Sharma said.
Meanwhile, the cremation of some leaders and cadre like Daya, Ganesh Bakuri Venkata Ramana, RK’s son Munna, Prabhakar, Lata, Mamatha, and Murali was completed in their native places.
Odisha and Andhra Pradesh Chief Ministers responsible for the encounter in Bejjangi forest under Panasput grampanchyat of Malkangiri district on October 24 causing the death of 27 Maoists, the secretary of CPI (Maoist) East Division Committee Kailash today said the security personnel have taken top Maoist leader G Ramakrishna alias RK in their custody.
In an audio tape released by the Maoist leader, Kailash said the State government is undertaking the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ in the area with an aim to resume mining operations to safeguard the interests of industrialists.
He threatened the SP of Malkangiri and Visakhapatnam Rural SP will face dire consequences for launching the recent encounter.
Mentioning some members of the Maoist organisation were caught by police personnel during the encounter, Kailash demanded immediate deposition of the arrested naxals before a court. The supporters carried the body of Maoist woman leader Mamata and shouted slogans favouring the red rebels while holding banners and posters. He emphatically added in the audio tape moral of naxals is still high despite the death of the top Maoist leaders in the encounter.
In a related development, a rally was organised by Maoist supporters in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh yesterday protesting against the joint operation of the Odisha and Andhra Pradesh Police in the Bejjangi forest of the cut-off area on October 24.