The killing is seen as an attempt by the banned outfit to regain lost ground

The killing of sarpanch Seendri Karla of Rallagedda village of Balapam panchayat in Chintapalli mandal here by Maoists in the early hours of Tuesday is being seen as an attempt by the banned outfit to regain their lost ground in the Agency areas of the district.

A couple of days ago, members of the Galikonda Area Committee damaged road-laying equipment in Pedabayalu mandal, alleging harassment of Girijans by the police.

According to sources, 20 armed Maoists along with 80 militia members of the Korukonda area committee forced Karla to come with them. They told his family members that he was being taken to a meeting.

The sarpanch was taken to the martyrs’ memorial near the village. When his father and brother reached the spot, they found Karla with his hands tied.

Some village residents were also stopped from reaching the memorial. The sarpanch’s father and brother were sent away with an assurance that he would be sent back.

The Maoists allegedly hit Karla with an axe on his neck and left. Karla succumbed to injuries at Rallagedda village, before he could be rushed to hospital. In the elections conducted last month, Karla was elected unopposed.

The Maoists had warned him earlier and accused him of colluding with the police, and helping the government in its efforts to take up bauxite mining in Visakha Agency.

A former Dalam member, Karla was arrested and later released a while ago. Maoists might have suspected him after after 76 local sympathisers had surrendered to the police. “The Maoists want to create panic in the minds of sympathisers and tribals at large. The tribal people took out a rally in Chintapalli to protest against the killing, which shows their opposition to the Maoists,” Superintendent of Police Vikram Jeet Duggal told The Hindu when contacted on Tuesday evening.

Mr. Duggal said that unlike in the past, the Maoists had killed him without warning or holding a ‘Praja Court’. This would only make them lose whatever little sympathy they had among the tribals, he added.