TAMIL NADU

Underground leaders surface for first time

KURNOOL, OCT. 11. Top leaders of the CPI-ML People's War and the CPI-ML Janasakthi made a stunning public appearance in the Nallamala forest, near Srisailam, ending their two-decade-old underground life today. The leaders walked into open society leaving their weapons to take part in the `peace negotiations' offered by the State Government.

Akkiraju Haragopal Ramakrishna, State secretary of the People's War, accompanied by Amar, State secretary of the CPI-ML Janasakthi, Ganesh, North Telengana Special Zonal Committee member of the PW, Sudhakar, Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee secretary, and Riyaz, Janasakthi State Committee member, surfaced near China Arutla, a remote tribal hamlet on the Dornala-Srisailam road, around 10 a.m. None of those passing the village was aware of the historic event unfolding a furlong away in the forest as the organisers kept it a closely-guarded secret.

Touching scene

The leaders walked from the east up to the fringe of the dense forest, accompanied by a battle-geared military platoon and 35 members of the People's Guerrilla Army (PGA). It was a touching scene for the PW cadre near a small stream when Ramakrishna, wearing white shirt and dark pants, handed over the AK-47 rifle to the members of military platoon and shook hands with them before bidding good-bye.

As the olive green-clad dalam withdrew and vanished into the forest again, the leaders, escorted by the unarmed PGA security guards, walked towards the ghat road which was a furlong away. The leaders and the guards got into the waiting vehicles and drove towards Dornala. Ramakrishna and Amar occupied the red-coloured vehicle decorated with party flags and a portrait of the father of the underground struggle, Charu Mazumdar.

A sober RK

Before the leaders emerged in front of the select members of the press, half a dozen youths made several trips from the ghat road to the secluded place in the forest, where the leaders were believed to have gathered. Members of the press were asked to wait near the stream.

Ramakrishna, who headed the most-militant outfit in the country, looked more like a philosopher than a military commander. His appearance became more sober after he discarded the weapon and hefted a bag to his shoulder.

The emissaries of the PW — Gaddar, Varava Rao and Kalyan Rao — who ran the show until now, were also present when the underground leaders made the dramatic appearance.

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