Two top Maoist leaders Sakhamuri Appa Rao and Solipeta Kondal Reddy were shot dead in two separate alleged encounters by the police in Prakasam and Warangal districts in Andhra Pradesh on Friday morning.
Police recovered AK – 47 rifles from both the encounter sites. Both the slain leaders are of the State committee member level. While Appa Rao had a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, Reddy had a reward of Rs 5 lakh on him.
In Prakasam district, the exchange of fire took place around 6.15 p.m. yesterday on a hillock near Isullapaya penta village under Pullala Cheruvu police station limits.
“A combing team which was returning had cited four or five naxalites on top of a small hillock. Police encircled it and there was an exchange of fire in which one naxalite was killed. He was later identified as Sakhamuri Appa Rao”, Prakasam SP, V. Naveenchand told The Hindu from the encounter site on phone.
Sakhamuri Appa Rao, who operated under different names in the Maoist party, had earned the distinction of being both an ideologue and a military strategist.
He was arrested in Hyderabad city in 1993 and was in Chanchalguda central prison for seven years along with Patel Sudhakar Reddy (Central Committee member who was recently killed in Warangal).
After he was released on bail in January 2000, he went underground again and had worked for a long time in Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC).
Rao would have been in the Central Committee of the Maoist party, but was demoted by several ranks, after certain allegations were levelled against him by his party colleagues. Later he was elevated to the state committee member level and the time of his death, he was believed to be taking care of the State Military Commission in Andhra Pradesh.
Appa Rao, police records show, was accused of being a mastermind of almost all the major naxal-related incidents in Andhra Pradesh ranging from the abortive assassination attempt on former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in Alipiri of Chittoor and killing of IPS officer K.S. Vyas in Hyderabad. Appa Rao hailed from Khanapur village of Warangal district.
Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao in Warangal adds:
Solipeta Kondal Reddy, a top maoist leader was killed in an encounter with the police in the wee hours of Friday near Kodishala village in Tadvai mandal here.
According to the information reaching here, the exchange of fire took place between the Maoist party naxals and special party of police in the early hours. Later, the police found one naxal dead and recovered one AK 47 weapon and some kitbags from the spot. The combing operations by the police were still continuing in the forest area.
Speaking to The Hindu, Superintendent of Police, Shah Nawaz Qasim said they received information about the movement of Maoist party naxals for the past 10 days and they were planning for major violence in the district. As per preliminary information, the slain naxal was identified as Solipeta Kondal Reddy alias Tech Ramana, he said.
The encounter that took place after a long time in the district created tension all over. Since early hours, it was widely rumoured that Mohannana of Praja Prathighatan who was most wanted by the district police for long was killed in the encounter. The police too were not sure of the party to which the naxals involved in the exchange of fire took place for quite sometime.
With the help of former naxals, the police succeeded in identifying the deceased and confirmed that they belonged to Maoist party.
Solipeta Kondal Reddy, the other top naxal leader was from Chittapur village in Medak district and had gone underground in 1988 while studying in Badruka college in Hyderabad.
He was arrested by Mahankali police in the state capital in 1992 and on being given bail, he went underground some six months later. He was working in military and technical field of the Maoist party and had gone by the name of ‘Tech Ramana’ in his party.
He had worked as the secretary of the South Telangana Regional Committee (STRC) coordinating the naxalite movement in south Telangana districts.