The Andhra Pradesh Police on Friday gunned down two top state-level Maoist leaders, including military chief Sakamuri Appa Rao.
“Appa Rao was looking after military activities in AP state and guiding (the Maoists’) action teams,” a press note issued by the state police chief, R.R. Girish Kumar’s office said.
According to police sources, Sakamuri Appa Rao, alias Ravi was considered to be both a ideologue and a military strategist of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). He was involved in a series of high-profile attacks, including the landmine blast near Tirupati that nearly killed then Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in October 2003.
The killings followed the Maoists renewed efforts to stage a comeback in the state — one of their original strongholds — riding on the Telangana statehood movement. Both the slain Maoists hailed from the Telangana region.
Appa Rao was killed in an alleged encounter in the Nallamala forests in Prakasam district, 150 km south from here.
The other leader, Solipeta Kondal Reddy, was killed near Kodishala village of Warangal district, about 140 km northeast from here.
Maoist sympathiser and ideologue Varavara Rao, however, termed the encounters as “fake”, saying the two Maoists were arrested earlier and were killed in cold blood.
Prakasam district police chief V. Naveenchand said a police party, while returning after a routine combing operation, sighted a group of Maoist fighters on the top of a hillock.
In the exchange of fire that ensued, one of them was killed. “He was later identified as Sakamuri Appa Rao.”
He was arrested in Hyderabad in 1993 and was in Chanchalguda central prison for seven years. After he was released on bail in January 2000, he went underground again.
Appa Rao was demoted by several ranks, as certain allegations were levelled against him by his colleagues. Later, he was elevated to the state committee and was leading the state military commission.