“YOU are a policeman, your father is a Maoist. How is it possible?”
His background is a well-kept secret, and he changes his phone number every other month. Yet, on Tuesday, his father’s body waiting for him inside a truck at the police headquarters in Odisha’s Malkangiri, that question returned to haunt Y Appa Rao.
Embarrassed by the guard’s question, he quietly collected the body, recorded his statement for the police and left in an ambulance with relatives, refusing to discuss his life, as a constable in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram, or his past, as a Maoist.
Rao, 38, is the son of Yamalapalli Simachalam Reddy, alias Murli, alias Hari, an area commander-ranked Maoist and part of the inner security cordon of the group’s senior leader Ramakrishna.
Reddy, 58, was among the 28 Maoists killed by a combined force of Andhra Police’s Greyhounds commandos and Odisha’s District Voluntary Force on the border area between the two states. Ramakrishna is believed to have escaped amid the encounter on
According to Andhra police, Reddy went underground in 1991 from Bobbili in Vizianagaram district. Rao followed his father in the late 1990s before falling ill and surrendering along with his wife in 2001 before the then Andhra DGP H J Dora.
Under a rehabilitation policy put in place by Dora, Rao was recruited in Vizianagaram police under a special quota in 2002.
Soon, he changed his last name to Rao. But his father’s legacy shadowed him. Andhra police’s anti-Maoist special intelligence branch made Rao write several letters to his father asking him to surrender — Reddy refused his son’s appeals every time.
“Relations between father and son soured after the surrender and deteriorated further when Rao started writing those letters to Reddy. The letters were delivered to his father through informers and couriers in the Maoist network in the Andhra-Odisha border,” said L K Ranga Rao, SP, Vizianagaram.
Rao was mostly posted in the Vizianagaram SP’s office or as support staff to the Officer on Special Duty. But five months ago, he cited health reasons to obtain a transfer to Garividi police station, 35 km from his ancestral village of Nandabalaga in Therlam mandal, Vizianagaram.
”He joined duty here but was frequently unwell. About 15 days ago, he went on leave after falling ill again,” said Srinivas Rao, Sub-Inspector at the Garividi station.
”Very few people knew about his background. We did not disclose it to his colleagues either, fearing that he may be isolated or discriminated against. There could be a threat to his life, too, if his identity was revealed. He changes his phone number every other month. After this encounter in Malkangiri, he informed me that he would be on leave for some more days,’’ said the officer.
On Tuesday, Rao was among the first batch of relatives of those killed in the encounter to reach Malkangiri. Asked to identify himself, he simply said, “I am a constable with Vizianagaram police. I have come to take my father’s body.”