Maoists in GK Veedhi Mandal of Vizag district in Andhra Pradesh abducted the mandal president of Telugu Desam Party and two other local leaders today morning. The three leaders are learnt to have gone to meet a group of Maoists to talk about the bauxite mining in the forest area of the mandal when they were taken hostage. Officials said that mandal president M Balaiah, V Balaiah and M Mahesh had gone to meet the Maoists of the Andhra Odisha Border after they objected and threatened the ruling TDP Government against starting bauxite mining in the forests in the mandal.
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“They have issued a statement saying that they have taken the three TDP leaders captive. They have also stated that they would be released only after the Government gives assurance that police operations against the Maoists will be stopped and bauxite mining will not be undertaken in the area,’’ Vizag SP Praveen Koya said.
Tribals in this region have been opposing proposals by successive governments to exploit bauxite deposits. To warn governments in the past, Maoists have targeted road building equipment and blew up cell phone towers. The Maoists have also given an ultimatum to 14 employees of the AP Mining Development Corporation who are conducting surveys in the area to quit their jobs if they want to live. On August 12, Maoists torched the houses in the mandal of four employees hired on contract by APMDC.
The three leaders are learnt to have gone from their village Kothaguda today morning after setting up a meeting with the Maoists over the issue of bauxite mining that the TDP Government is keen on starting in the area where a large number of tribals live. The meeting was to take place at Dharkonda and the Maoists had given an assurance that the TDP leaders won’t be harmed. However, three hours later the CPI (Maoists) released a statement asking the government to halt all police operations against them and until an assurance is given, the trio would be held captive. This is the first time that Maoists have taken someone hostage after giving an assurance of their safety.
Police is verifying if the three leaders went to the meeting innocently believing the Maoists’ assurance or if they connived with them to put pressure on the government, as local leaders in the mandal are known to be sympathetic to the tribals.
Last August, hundreds of tribals took out rallies and were joined by the Left parties. The TDP government has recently proposed to start mining operations in the area.