ANDHRA PRADESH

Villagers thrash PW top gun

ADILABAD NOV. 1. The commander of the People's War Chennur area, Durgam Madanaiah alias Santosh, was seriously injured when the residents of interior Kadamba village in Easgaon police station limits, under Kagaznagar sub-division revolted against the naxals and snatched a sten-gun late last night.

Reports reaching here said, three naxal leaders led by the Chennur area district committee member, Mailarapu Adelu alias Bhaskar, Chennur area commander, Santosh and Chennur area deputy commander, Sathpathi Tirupati alias Kiran, visited the interior village located about 15 km from Easgaon police station in search of four persons said to be shepherds and owing allegiance to the Telugu Desam Party.

The three naxals had reportedly been camping outside the village for the last three days. They were understood to have interacted with four shepherds, who had a dispute with fellow community members, belonging to the TDP. The four persons who met the naxals, reportedly, were Congress workers. Since their meeting with the naxals the four were not seen in the village.

Last night, the three naxals came to the house of Bursa Sattaiah and enquired about him from his mother. They reportedly asked the old woman, as to why her sons were frequenting the police station and accused them of passing information about the naxals. The aged woman was said to have retorted that the villagers were visiting the police station for redress of their grievances.

In the meantime, Bursa Sattaiah and his brother, Laxmaiah, sensing trouble, alerted the neighbours who gathered in large number. The mob confronted the naxals, asking them why they were looking for four particular villagers.

A youth allegedly tried to snatch the sten-gun being carried by Santosh. The Chennur area commander fired a round at the youth which missed him. The irate villagers caught hold of Santosh and snatched his weapon.

The two other naxals then opened fire in the air with the weapons which they were carrying. The naxals threatened the villagers not to move forward. In a hurry, they carried Santosh into the forests. Before entering the forest, they reportedly fired once again in the air to deter the villagers from following them. Santosh reportedly suffered a severe head injury, when the villagers beat him. The naxals managed to rescue Santosh and carried him away.

The villagers on Saturday came to Easgaon police station in a hired vehicle and surprised the police by handing them over the sten-gun. They narrated the sequence of events to the police, who were visibly elated. The villagers explained how the rivalry between the rival shepherd groups was the cause of trouble in the village.

The Bellampalli Additional SP, M. Stephen Ravindra, and the CI, Sashidhar Raju, rushed to Easgaon police station and interacted with the villagers. The Superintendent of Police, Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat, said this was the 24th time the villagers in Adilabad had revolted against the naxalites in the last two and a half years. He said the first revolt took place on November 20, 2000, in Narsapur village of Ichoda mandal, when four naxals were beaten nd their weapons snatched by irate villagers.

He attributed the change in the attitude of the villagers towards the naxals due to the `Police me kosam' programme launched in the district. He said the Police Department had already adopted the village and it would help in redressing villagers' long-pending grievances. The villagers are expected to be rewarded for their bravery.

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