No one ventures out of their ramshackle houses in this tiny village when visitors reach here, mostly on foot or two-wheelers from GK Veedhi, a distance of 10 km.
The reason: fear of Maoists or arrival of police parties. Reaching here by jeep is not advisable due to fear of landmines.
Located on dense hilly terrain with no black top road and cut off from the mainstream, this hamlet, home to 36 families with a population of around 180, has no access to basic amenities. Kondhs (a particularly vulnerable tribal group) are in a majority and Nooka Doras also reside here.
One has to trek half a kilometre to collect water from a hill stream. Six families have TV sets but except Korra Balanna, a farmer, others do not have satellite TV connections. Others watch movies by buying CDs at Pedavalasa during shandies (weekly markets).
The hilltop village is one of the strongholds of Left-wing extremists. It is located around 200 km from Visakhapatnam and is part of Paderu Assembly constituency. It is the hometown of “third central region command” member Gimmela Hari, who carries of reward of Rs.4 lakh and another underground activist Korra Sittaiah.
Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee member and first Central Region Commander Kudumula Ravi (with a reward of Rs.25 lakh on his head) belongs to Kommangi village in Chintapalle, 35 km from here. After a recent famine raid at Kumkumpudi, the family of Korra Sanyasi Rao, a farmer, fled to an unknown place.
There is no sign of election activity in Paderu from where Tribal Welfare Minister in Kiran Kumar Reddy government, P. Balaraju, is confident of getting Congress nomination. Mr. Balaraju was kidnapped by the Maoists in 1993 when he was Chintapalle MLA.
“No one understands our plight. If there are roads, phone, potable water and health facilities, we will certainly be treated on a par with others,” pointed out a village youth, seeking anonymity.
Fear stalks the village and none of the tribals came forward to talk to this correspondent as they are caught in a typical “devil and deep sea situation”.
Tribals in all the Maoist-hit areas live in constant fear. They are bound to provide shelter and food whenever the ‘annalu’ (as the Maoists are called in local parlance) visit them. Such visits are soon followed by police teams who insist on them to reveal the movements of the extremists. Incidentally, for the past several years none of the villagers from this area took part in voting due to enforcement of poll boycott by the Maoists. Surrendered militia member Sindri Karla of Darakonda area was killed in February after his election as sarpanch of Balapam.
Incidentally, in 2013 seven tribals were shot dead by Maoists branding them as police informers. In Saagulu in GK Veedhi mandal, three tribals were killed recently due to intra-caste rivalry.
“Despite their threats, there is increased awareness. Due to our two-pronged strategy of community policing during which we distribute medicines, sports kits and train them in self-employment opportunities and awareness campaigns, we are able to wean them away from Maoist influence,” SP Vikram Jeet Duggal told The Hindu.