The recent recovery of a cache of Maoists’ arms near West Godavari district points to change in strategy of rebels, who are now choosing thickly populated areas as their hideouts, a top police official said.

“The huge catch of explosive material at Paidiparru village near Tanuku town recently is an indication that they (Maoists) have changed their strategy of taking shelter,” the official told PTI.

This could be an attempt by the Naxals to regain control over Andhra Pradesh, he said.

“Tanuku was never known for naxal activity in the past. Maoists are now making use of peaceful areas to store their arms and carry out extremist activities instead of setting up a series of hideouts in jungles,” he said.

The huge dump explosive material was recovered after the killing of two top Maoists in an encounter last month.

One of the slain Maoist leaders Kondal Reddy was operating his activities from Paidiparru village where he took a room on rent posing as a scrap dealer. Based on his dairy seized from the encounter site, police searched houses in the area.

The surfacing of two top Maoist leaders - Shakamuri Appa Rao and Kondal Reddy, killed in encounter last month, gave credence to the inputs that they visited the State with an intention to revive the activities in Nallamalla forests which was once known to be fortress of naxal activities, he said.

After recovery of arms dump in a residential area of Paidiparru village, the Director General of Police (DGP) R. R. Girish Kumar had said, “Maoists in order to prove their existence want to commit some sensational offences and create terror in the minds of common people. Intelligence inputs suggest that Maoist action teams are roaming in the State in trying to re-build the organisation.”

The residents of this small village were surprised that a Maoist workshop was functioning in the area for the last three years.

A huge quantity of material brought here from Tanuku included over 1,600 grenade shells, plastic chambers, springs, rings, safety pins, hammers, live ammunition and six rocket launchers and this material was enough to make 3000 grenades.

Andhra Pradesh police has requested the public in general to be vigilant about activities of suspected persons in their localities and inform the police if they come across any such Maoist activity or on any storage of arms and ammunition in their villages or town.

Also, in wake of the deadliest Maoist attack in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, killing 75 CRPF personnel, Andhra Pradesh have sounded an alert particularly in those districts which have borders with Orissa and Chhattisgarh and have asked them to be vigilant and keep a constant watch on the movement of the suspected persons on the border.

Intelligence inputs further suggested that after the Dantewada incident, the Maoists may try to sneak into the Andhra-Orissa border (AOB) for safety and this remains as a matter of concern for the Andhra Pradesh Police.

A senior police officer from Srikakulam district, which shares border with Orissa, said, “we have deployed special forces on the bordering villages to keep a vigil on the movement and all entry points into our State was manned round the clock to check vehicles as well as the persons coming from other side of the border.”

“Our forces are combing in the forest continuously to thwart any attempt of Maoists to sneak into Andhra Pradesh, he said.

Another senior police officer of Khammam district, bordering Chhatisgarh, said there was no possibility of Maoists to enter Andhra as combing operations have been intensified not only in forests, but also in the limits of police stations on the border.

“Except permitted entry points on the border between the two States, we are not allowing any one to come close to the border,” the police officer said adding every vehicle coming from other side of the State and persons are being thoroughly checked before allowing them to enter the State.