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The dhoti-clad assailants raised little suspicion

By Our Staff Reporter

The former MLA from Kollapur, J. Krishna Rao (extreme right), with his driver, Srinivas, who was injured in an extremist attack, at the Kurnool Government General Hospital on Monday.

KURNOOL, FEB. 2 . The presence of extremists who carried out the attack on former MLA Krishna Rao's gunmen at Kollapur today had roused little suspicion in the minds of any present at the Congress office. The number of extremists who participated in the attack could not be determined immediately as there was commotion after the assailants started firing.

It was believed that two to three persons clad in dhoti suddenly took out their arms and opened fire on the gunmen — Naik and Srinivasa Reddy — both aged about 40, who were relaxing in the vehicle. The part-time lecturer in Chemistry at Gayatri college in Wanaparty, Madan Kumar, who came to meet the former MLA, and the driver, Srinivas, were chatting when the naxals attacked. After the gunmen collapsed, the assailants collected their weapons — carbine and a revolver and turned towards the driver. Shocked by the sudden turn of events, he tried to identify himself as the driver by showing the key of the vehicle.

They fired at him too, injuring him on the hand, while Madan Kumar, who was suspected to be a police officer by the extremists fell to their bullets. He died on the way to the general hospital here. About 10 to 15 rounds had been fired by the naxals.

As sounds of gunfire triggered commotion, the Congress workers shut the doors of the room where the former MLA was addressing party workers. Mr. Rao suspected that the extremists committed the offence in response to the bandh call given by the PW on February 3. Mr. Rao spent around 45 minutes at the hospital.

Mr. Rao expressed sympathy with the families of the gunmen killed in the attack and promised help to them in all possible ways. The former Congress MLA from Alur, Mareppa, condemned the killing of the gunmen saying that they should not be treated as class enemies and urged the Government to announce an exgratia of Rs. 5 lakhs each and jobs to the one of the members in each family.

Later, Mr. Rao described the attack as an attempt by the extremists to snatch the weapons from the gunmen. He did not see any reason for the attack on him saying that there was no direct confrontation between him and the extremists. Neither had there been any indication nor threats from extremists. A shocked Mr. Rao described the incident as unfortunate.

The PW had called for a Mahabubnagar district bandh on Tuesday in protest against the killing of three top cadre naxalites by the police in alleged encounters in Chittoor and Cuddapah districts recently.

The two slain policemen had no chance of retaliation since the assailants were quite close and had taken them by surprise. The hit squad fled the scene after snatching the weapons of the slain policemen.

The Mahabubnagar SP, R. K. Meena, and other police officials rushed to Kollapur. They suspected that the attack was aimed at terrorising people and collecting weapons on the eve of the bandh call given by naxalites in protest against fake encounters.

Meanwhile, in Hyderabad the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, condemned the killing of the gunmen of Mr. Rao, and another person by the extremists. He said it was inhuman to kill gunmen who were discharging their duties.

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