At least 24 Maoists, including two top leaders and 7 women, were shot dead in an alleged encounter with a joint team of Odisha Police and Greyhounds team of AP Police early today morning in a forest in Malkangiri district near the Andhra-Odisha border.the Two constables were reported to be injured. However, Maoist central committee member RK reportedly escaped.
Among the dead are at least 7 women Maoists. While the bodies are yet to be identified it is suspected that Gajarla Ravi, 49, Secretary of the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee, Chalapathi alias Appa Rao, his wife Aruna and another leader Bakuri Venkata Ramana Murthy, were killed in the encounter. Ravi had a reward of Rs 20 lakhs on his head while Chalapati, secretary of the East division, carries a reward of Rs 20 lakh on his head. His wife Aruna, deputy commander of the Koraput-Srikakulam Division Committee carried a reward of Rs 5 lakh.
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Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said the bodied are being brought to Malkangiri district headquarters hospital for post mortem.
In May this year, police in Andhra Pradesh had recovered a recent photo of Chalapathi and his wife Aruna, from the laptop belonging to slain Maoist Azad. Till then police had an old photo of Chalapathi taken in the nineties. The cops then made posters of the photo and splashed it all over.
The alleged encounter happened after the joint police team surrounded a Maoist camp in Bejingi village where it was suspected that Maoist plenary was going on, attended by top leaders of the Andhra Odisha Border area. Officals said that when the combing team came under fire from the Maoists and a gunfight ensued in which 21 Maoists died while two cops were injured. They were airlifted to a hospital in Vizag for treatment. A young Maoist named Munna who is son of Maoist top leader G Ramakrishna alias RK is also suspected to have died.
Officials said that they suspect the entire `dalam’ led by Maoist leader Gajarla Ravi alias Uday alias Ganesh has been wiped out in the encounter along with him. However, none of the bodies have been identified so far.Gajarla Ravi hails from Velishala village of Warangal district in Telangana. He is the youngest of three brothers all of whom joined the Maoist movements in the late 80s. His elder brother Gajarla Ashok surrendered several years ago due to ill health and now drives and autorickshaw in Warangal. His other brother Gajarla Saraya alias Azad was shot dead in an encounter with police seven years ago.
Venkataramana hails from Hakimpeta mandal of Vizag districts in Andhra Pradesh.It is suspected that top Maoist leader G Ramakrishna alias RK was also present at the meeting but managed to escape with other top leaders. Officials said that three AK 47 rifles, four SLRs, one INSAS, one 303, one SBML, two kit bags, one laptop and and Rs 2.16 lakhs cash and several small arms and ammunition has been recovered from site of the encounter.
“The AK 47s indicate that some top leaders were present at the site. Normally, only top Maoist leaders carry AKs. We suspect that one of the leaders killed is Gajarla Ravi,’’’ said Vizag Rural SP Rahul Sarma.
The bodies are likely to be taken to Koraput for postmortem.Today’s is the biggest and second major encounter in Malkangiri disitrict. In September 2013, 13 Maoists were killed in an encounter with Odisha Police in Podia block of Malkangiri district.
Meanwhile, revolutionary writer P Varavara Rao called it fake encounter and demanded a probe. “Cops surrounded a Maoist meeting and shot them in cold blood and terming it as an encounter. After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the influence of Maoists has come down and they have not launched any major attacks. So what was the reason for such drastic action against them? This encounter case should be registered as a murder case. A sitting HC judge should conduct the probe,” Rao said.