Maoists increasing presence in A.P.’s Araku region

Chief Minister is believed to have cancelled visit to his adopted village due to fresh inroads by maoists

Although Maoists have a considerable presence in the Agency areas of Visakhaptnam, especially interior pockets and regions such as G.K. Veedhi, Pedabayalu, Chintapalli, Munchingput and G. Madugula, the Araku region has been considered a safe zone by the police.

But the police no longer consider the well known tourist attraction a safe zone. There are a number of indications suggesting that Maoists are trying to make inroads into the Araku region, including the recent cancellation of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s visit to his adopted village of Peda Labudu, located about 10 km from Araku town.

Sources suggest that Mr. Naidu’s visit was cancelled due to the imminent threat from Maoists. The Chief Minister is on their hit-list. He survived a mine attack at Alipiri in October 2003.

The road to Peda Labudu is narrow, and has many sharp curves with a number of culverts. The bomb detection squad of the police can detect mines or improvised explosive devices 4 to 5 metres below the ground. But it is difficult to detect an IED placed deep in the valley. A well-packed strong IED beyond the detection level can prove fatal. This was the reason that prompted the cancellation of the Chief Minister’s programme at the last minute, said a senior district police officer.

Spate of attacks

The Araku mandal borders the Koraput division of Odisha. The Maoists have been active on the Koraput side. In February, they detonated a mine killing seven policemen of the Odisha Armed Police. Recently, they killed the gram panchayat president of Hatibari block in Koraput, barely 3 km from the Araku border, said Visakhapatnam (Rural) SP Rahul Dev Sharma. This apart, the police discovered a number of black flags and banners during the Maoist Martyrs’ week celebrations.

The blast on an APSRTC bus on August 2 near Dumku village in Anantagiri mandalappears to have consolidated the fears of the police. “Luckily no one was injured in the blast, but it was certain that potassium nitrate, a key ingredient for making IEDs and detonators, and wires were part of the unmarked consignment, which probably ignited due to some reason. It gives us the hunch that Maoists movement has increased in the Araku region,” said Mr. Sharma.

There are two view points to the fresh surge by Maoists in the region: they may be trying to regain some lost ground, as the pressure is hotting up on the other side, or it could be a diversion strategy.


C. Kistler

Also editor of Nouvelle Turquie.