Two politicians in Andhra Pradesh, including a sitting legislator, were gunned down, aby Naxals in Dumbriguda mandal of Araku valley in Visakhapatnam district. Present MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and ex-Araku MLA Siveri Soma, who were travelling together, were killed in the attack.
The incident occurred near Thutangi village, about 125 km from coastal city of Visakhapatnam, when the deceased were reportedly returning after attending a party function. They were intercepted by a group of 20 to 30 naxals and shot from point blank range.
Speaking to reporters in Visakhapatnam, Visakhapatnam DIG Srikanth said that naxals allegedly stopped the vehicle in which the politicians were travelling and snatched weapons from security personnel before shooting the two political leaders at point blank range. Visuals of the incident showed the bullet-ridden bodies of the two politicians lying in a pool of blood. Both of them were reported to have died on the spot. Greyhounds (an elite anti-naxal force) are learnt to have been deployed in the area to conduct combing operations and find the people behind the shootout.
Rao was elected from Araku, a constituency reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, on a YSRCP ticket in the 2014 elections, defeating Soma of the TDP. In 2016, Rao switched loyalties to the TDP.
Sarveswara Rao was reported to be on the Naxal hit-list, and the attacks may have been carried out as it came close on the heels of September 21, the formation day of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
Responding to the attack, TDP MP Rammohan Naidu told a local media outlet, “We also just heard the news. We are in shock. The police and authorities are at the spot and we will get further clarity on the incident soon. We condemn this and wish to reiterate that violence is not the answer.”
Shocked to learn about the brutal killing of Araku MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao Garu and Ex-MLA Siveri Soma Garu. We stand with their families in this hour of grief.— Lokesh Nara (@naralokesh) September 23, 2018
In October 2015, naxals held TDP leaders M Balaiah, M Mahesh and V Balaiah captive over the government’s decision to commence bauxite mining in the area. Naxals had reportedly asked the three leaders to meet them and assured them that they would not be harmed, but took them hostage during the meeting.
While Naxal influence in the state has been declining over the years, they continue to operate out of the thick forests along the Andhra-Odisha border.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu himself is under the ‘Z plus’ category protection after he survived a claymore mine attack by Naxals on October 1, 2003 in Tirupati.
Naidu, who was then the Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, had sustained injuries in the blast. Further details are awaited.
This is a developing story.