The Maoists on Saturday threatened revenge if security forces harmed Cherukuri Raj Kumar alias Azad, who is missing since March 11.
One of the top leaders and chief spokesperson of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), Azad went missing while on his way to a meeting with the Maoist intelligence chief Sakamuri Appa Rao.
Appa Rao and another senior leader, Kondal Reddy, were killed in an encounter on the same day in Andhra Pradesh.
“Around 3 pm on March 11, he (Azad) last communicated with us and was supposed to reach our base area (in Dandakaranya) on March 17. But there has been no trace of him since then,” said a Maoist statement issued on Saturday.
The statement was released by Maoist central regional bureau spokesperson Kathakam Sudarshan alias Pratap and Dandakaranya special zonal committee spokesperson Gudsa Usendi alias Vivek.
The police, however, refused to confirm the Maoists’ claim.
Azad’s mother Cherukuri Karuna moved the Andhra Pradesh State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Saturday. Complaining that there was threat to her son’s life, she demanded that he be produced immediately in court.
The SHRC directed the Director General of Andhra Pradesh Police R.R. Girish Kumar to submit a report to the commission by Monday.
If the Maoists’ claim is correct, after Kobad Ghandy, Azad is the biggest catch for the security forces. He ranks fourth in the party hierarchy.
With Azad missing, only seven of the 13-member Maoist politburo still remain active — Mupalla Laxman Rao alias Ganapathy, Prashanta Bose alias Kishanda, Nambala Keshav Rao alias Vasavraj, Kishenji, Vivek, Pratap and Misir Besra.
Leaders of the Maoists’ 2007 politburo who are now behind bars are Pramod Misra, Kobad Ghandy, Amitabha Bagchi and Ashutosh Tudu. Another politburo member, Malla Raji Reddi, recently obtained bail from a Kerala court and reportedly went underground.
What’s more, two members of the Maoists’ 2004 politburo — Sushil Roy and Narayan Sanyal — are also behind bars.