Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) RP Thakur on Wednesday said that his department took responsibility for the murder of the two politicians, who were in the tribal area of Visakhapatnam district on Sunday. Sarveswara Rao, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA from Araku (Reserved-Scheduled Tribe), and his party colleague, former MLA Siveri Soma, were gunned down allegedly by Naxals when they were visiting a village to attend a party programme.
Speaking to reporters after visiting the crime scene, the DGP said, "It is an act of cowardice by the Maoists. I have met with officers and discussed how they carried out the killing. We will take strict action against the culprit. There will be no softness there. We have formed a special investigation team with a SP-rank officer to ascertain what exactly happened."
Thakur landed in Visakhapatnam directly from the US, where he had gone on an official visit, before rushing to the spot.
â€śAs of now, the SIT team is probing all angles and we canâ€™t say failure of police or not till then...Intelligence, Greyhounds (an elite anti-Naxal force) work under me. So yes, we take the responsibility. We canâ€™t dismiss it and say that nothing has happened. We will do something," he told reporters, when asked if the police could have acted before.
Thakur also told the media that attempts had also been made in the recent past, to attack police personnel.
"Their activity has decreased and incidents of violence have also decreased, but it is an ongoing battle. They make plans like we make plans. They have been planning attacks of revenge on the police. We have credible information about this. One or two times, we missed the attack by a whisker. We also took precaution and escaped," he said.
"Moaists are roaming in the border area. We have a disadvantage because of jurisdictional issues but we are coordinating with Odisha officials and we will take action and ensure that such incidents are not repeated," the DGP added.
The police chief also met with families of the deceased later in the day and expressed his condolences.
The police on Monday released the names and pictures of three Maoists including two women who took part in the attack near Lipittuputtu village, about 15 km from the Odisha border. Based on the information gathered from witnesses, the police said that the main accused in the killing was Aruna alias Venkataravi Chaitanya, a Special Zonal Committee Member (SZCM) of the Communist Party of India-Maoist.
Aruna, who heads Nandapur Area Committee on Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB), is suspected to have led a group of 50-60 Maoists who allegedly crossed over to Andhra Pradesh from Odisha. Aruna, a native of Visakhapatnam district, is wife of Pratapreddy Ramachandra Reddy alias Chalapati, who heads AOB Special Zonal Committee Military Commission.
Police said they were trying to identify the other Maoists involved. Special police teams have launched a hunt for the guerrillas involved in the attack.