Three leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh have reportedly been held captive by Maoists in Visakhapatnam district, the police claimed on Tuesday.
According to a PTI report, Maoists through their network had asked the three TDP leaders to meet them at Dharkonda on Monday afternoon, on the assurance that they would not be harmed.
However, they were allegedly taken captive during the meeting.
The three leaders have been identified as Gudem Kotha Veedhi Mandal President M Balaiah and two other local leaders, M Mahesh and V Balaiah.
"Now, they have been held captive. We have verified (the information). The only possibility is the Maoists will take them in the deep interior forest area towards the border of East Godavari districtâ€¦we are waiting for Maoists to put forth their demands,â€ť the district superintendent K Praveen told the news agency.
While the motive for the abduction is still unclear, reports suggest that this move comes in the wake of large scale protests by villagers against the state government's decision to start Bauxite mining in the area.
In August, nearly 800 people from 25 villages attended an anti-bauxite mining meeting organized by the banned CPI Maoist party on the Andhra-Odisha border.
Asking villagers to take up an armed struggle, those addressing the meeting also said that the tribals would lose their rights to their natural resources and demanded that all mining licences be cancelled.
In September, two Maoists were gunned down by the Telangana police in an alleged encounter, which only made things worse, as naxalites abducted a sarpanch and warned of a Maoist revival in the tribal area.
Update: The Maoists have since released a public notice that the kidnapped leaders would be released only if the state government withdrew its efforts, including the government orders on bauxite mining. Security has been strengthened in the areas and the state is trying to conduct friendly negotiations to ensure the safe release of the TDP leaders.