At least five Maoists, including three women, were killed in an encounter with the security forces in Odisha's Koraput district bordering Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday, police said. The Maoists belonged to the Nandapur Area Committee of Koraput division and also reportedly included Swaroopa, one of the key accused in the double murder of sitting Araku MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and former MLA Siveri Soma in September last year in Andhra Pradesh.
According to officials, Swaroopa hailed from Bhimavaram in West Godavari district and carried a bounty of Rs 6 lakh on her head.
"After getting information about the presence of Maoists, an operation was launched. Five Maoists were killed in an encounter in the Padua forest area of the district," said Koraput Superintendent of Police Kanwar Vishal Singh.
The encounter took place when the Special Operations Group (SOG) and the District Voluntary Force (DVF) were conducting a joint operation in the forest.
On September 23, 2018, the two politicians belonging to the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were surrounded and gunned down allegedly by Maoists near Livitiputtu village, about 15 km from the Odisha border.
The Andhra police had initially released the names and pictures of three Maoists, including two women, who took part in the attack. Based on the information gathered from witnesses, the police earlier said that the main accused in the killing was Aruna alias Venkataravi Chaitanya, a Special Zonal Committee Member (SZCM) of the CPI (Maoist). Aruna, who heads Nandapur Area Committee of the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) unit, is suspected to have led a group of 50-60 Maoists who allegedly crossed over to Andhra Pradesh from Odisha.
The case is presently being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Meanwhile, four sophisticated weapons were also recovered from the Maoists in the present case, the police said.
Of late, there has been a tilt in the strategy of Maoists with a renewed focus on the militant aspect of the movement ever since Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraj took over as the chief of the banned CPI (Maoist), succeeding Ganapathy as the General Secretary.