Araku killing brings back haunting memories for families

A warning signal to all elected leaders and politicians

The surprise attack of Maoists in Visakhapatnam district killing an MLA and former legislator is not new to Telangana as similar attacks had led to the death of a Minister and three sitting legislators in the past.

On March 7, 2000, Panchayat Raj Minister in the then TDP Government A. Madhava Reddy was killed in a landmine blast triggered by Naxalites belonging to the People's War Group near Ghatkesar.

Reddy, who held the portfolio of Home in the past was killed along with his driver and a personal security officer. The Minister's brand new Toyota Qualis was blown up when a powerful landmine planted underneath a flyover was triggered.

Other incidents include the sensational killing of the then Sirpur MLA Palvai Purushotham Rao inside his party office in Kagaznagar town on September 15, 1999. Naxals sprayed bullets on Rao and three of his gunmen who were present there. The incident came ahead of Assembly elections slated sometime in December that year.

On December 29, 2001, tribal Congress MLA from Devarakonda Ragya Naik too fell to the naxal bullets. He was shot dead outside a small hotel in Maddimadugu in Atchampet of Mahabubnagar district by four naxalites. The slain legislator along with his wife Bharati went to Maddimadugu to participate in a local festivity.

But, the most gruesome killing was that of senior Congress MLA Chittem Narsi Reddy and 10 others in Narayanpet on August 15, 2005. It is the last major naxalite attack on politicians in Telangana.

He was on a visit to the SC Colony in Narayanpet town to lay the foundation stone for a school when an action team of the People's War Group first shot the senior MLA. In the burst of firing afterwards, nine others were killed on the spot.

Another incident that can be recalled is the killing of former Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker Duddila Sripada Rao on April 13, 1999. He was waylaid by four PWG extremists near Annaram village in Karimnagar district while returning after attending a ritual of his friend. He was shot dead from the point blank range. His death sent shock waves across the political circles in those days.

Families recall the horror

Late Purushotham Rao along with three of his personal security officers were gunned down inside his office in Sirpur Paper Mill Township on September 15, 1999. Narsi Reddy and 10 others too fell to naxalite bullets at the Independence Day function in Narayanpet mandal headquarters of Mahabubnagar district on August 15, 2005.

Former Minister D.K. Aruna, whose father, a sitting Congress MLA too was killed in naxals, watches the news after the brutal killing of AP MLA Kidari Sarveshwara Rao in Visakhapatnam district, on Sunday in Hyderabad.

Former Minister D.K. Aruna, whose father, a sitting Congress MLA too was killed in naxals, watches the news after the brutal killing of AP MLA Kidari Sarveshwara Rao in Visakhapatnam district, on Sunday in Hyderabad.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Former Congress Minister D.K. Aruna, daughter of late Narsi Reddy and Palvai Rajyalaxmi and Dr. Palvai Harish Babu, wife and son of late Purushutham Rao spoke to The Hindu on Sunday recalling the dreadful deaths.

"It was Independence day celebrations and as usual since morning, we had busy schedule. I hoisted the national flag in Gadwal and came home after a series of programmes to have my lunch. Suddenly there was message on the police wireless VHF set about naxalites firing at my father Narsi Reddy and others," recalled Ms. Aruna about the fateful day in August 2005.

She said Narsi Reddy had come to SC Colony in Narayanpet mandal headquartes where he was laying the foundation stone for the school building. "He just broke the coconut when all of a sudden there a burst of fire, the next moment, my father fell down in a pool of blood. There was indiscriminate firing which led to the death of nine more persons including my brother Venkateshwar Reddy," the former Minister remembered.

Ms. Aruna said the Araku MLA's killing should come as a warning signal for all the elected leaders and politicians. "When everyone is under the impression that the naxalite activity is under control, this particular killing should alert us. Telangana can also be another place where such incidents can take place in the run up to the Assembly elections," she said.

Ms. Palvai Rajyalaxmi, who became TDP MLA after her husband's death was glued to the television watching the live updates on the Araku incident in Kagaznagar of Kumram Bheem-Asifabad district.

Talking to The Hindu over phone from Kagaznagar, she said: "It was only 15 minutes after my husband (Purushotham Rao) left home that we got a telephone call about the firing. I really feel bad about the incident and such violence even today is painful."

Dr. Palvai Harish Babu, son of the former Sirpur MLA, who was pursuing medicine in Osmania Medical College then, has vivid memory of the incident in which his father lost his life.

"I had come down to Kagaznagar for vacation after completion of my first year's examination. I was supposed to catch Andhra Pradesh Express to New Delhi for an event in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Kagaznagar station. I got up at 6.30 a.m. and made a telephone call and saw my dad getting ready to go to his office to meet people," he recollected.

"The next thing I remember is getting a call on the land line informing us that father has been shot dead along with three gunmen. We all rushed there to see my dad in a pool of blood inside Praja Karyalayam (People's office), which he had fondly named the party office. He was known as people's man and was accessible to everyone," Dr. Harish said remembering his father's image in the constituency.

The doctor turned politician says there is no place for violence in the democratic process. "People can raise their voice and fight for their right but they do not have any right to kill a person just because he or she does not agree with their views," he opined.

Targetting a section of politicians, particularly of the ruling party, will not serve any purpose, Dr. Harish, who is aspiring to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections from Sirpur Assembly constituency, observed.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 7:30:20 PM |

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