ISSN 2330-717X

India: Collapsing Movement In Andhra Pradesh – Analysis


By Deepak Kumar Nayak*

A woman cadre of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), identified as Irothu Sundaramma aka Sadhana, carrying a reward of INR one million on her head, surrendered before the Superintendent of Police (SP), C.M. Trivikrama Varma, in Srikakulam District on March 17, 2018. Sadhana was involved in a number of Maoist-linked offenses, including an attack at National Aluminium Company (NALCO) Company at Damanjodi in the Koraput District of Odisha on April 12, 2009, in which 11 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel were killed.

On March 12, 2018, nine CPI-Maoist cadres surrendered before the Police at Narsipatnam in Visakhapatnam District. The surrendered cadres were identified as Jartha Venkata Rao (25), Korra Dasu (27), Korra Lingaraju (22), Korra Jagga Rao (23), Plika Narsu (20), Palika Ramesh (23), Korra Bandu (21), Paliaka Baburao (25), and Korra Bangaraju (22). All of them were associated with the ‘Galikonda Area Committee’ of the CPI-Maoist and used to supply food to Dalam (armed squad) members, gather the public for Maoists meetings and act as route guides to Dalam members in the forests.

On March 7, 2018, a CPI-Maoist ‘assistant commander’ affiliated with the Kalimela, Motu and Papuluru dalams in the neighbouring State of Odisha, identified as Madakam Yerraiah (33), surrendered before the Police in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. Madakam was allegedly involved in seven violent incidents, including the Balimela boat capsize incident in Malkangiri District of Odisha, in which 38 Security Force (SF) personnel, mostly of Greyhounds [the elite anti-Maoist force of the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Police] were killed in 2008.

On March 4, 2018, six CPI-Maoist cadres of the ‘Galikonda and Korukonda Area Committees’ surrendered before the Superintendent of Police (Vizag Rural), Rahul Dev Sharma, in Visakhapatnam District. They were identified as Korra Rajababu (42), Vanthala Sethu aka Tilusu (25), Vanthala Ramakrishna (35), and Vanthala Ravi (30), each of them carrying a cash reward of INR 100,000 on their heads; and Korra Mallana (30) and Pangi Bhaskar Rao (35).

On February 16, 2018, four CPI-Maoist cadres surrendered before the Police in Visakhapatnam District. Two of them were, identified as Vanthala Lakshmana Rao aka Das (28) and Pangi Lakshman aka Venkat (25), cadres of the CPI-Maoist ‘Galikonda Area Committee’; while another one was identified as Pangi Sombra (18). The identity of the fourth was not disclosed, as he was a juvenile.

On February 14, 2018, nine ‘jan militia (People’s Army)’ members of the CPI-Maoist surrendered before the Police in Visakhapatnam District. The surrendered members were identified as J. Bobbili Raju (25), Vantala Veeranna (45), Jartha Balaraju (48), Pangi Mange (45), Jartha Gangamma (40), Kakuri Narayananamma (40), Kakuri Parvathi (20), Jartha Seethamma (40) and Kakuri Lakshmi (35). All of them hailed from Manta Bheemavaram Panchayat (village level local-self Government institution) in Mandapalli village of Koyyur Mandal (administrative sub-division) in the District.

On February 8, 2018, a CPI-Maoist dalam member, Muttha Rayi aka Beerayya (29), surrendered before the Police along with his wife and children, in East Godavari District. Rayi was allegedly involved in several incidents of violence, including the killing of 17 personnel of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Odisha, which was travelling in a mine protected vehicle (MPV) in Malkangiri District on July 16, 2008.

According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 31 Naxalites [Left Wing Extremists] have surrendered in the current year, 2018, (data till March 25, 2018). During the corresponding period of 2017, at least 18 Naxalites had surrendered. The number of such surrenders through 2017 stood at 60. In 2016, 26 Naxalites had surrendered. Importantly, on December 18, 2017, Gemmali Kishore aka Chittibabu aka Balarevula Kishore (22), an ‘area committee member (ACM)’ of ‘Galikonda Area Committee’, who carried a reward of INR 400,000 on his head; and Sindri Shobhan (37), who carried a reward of INR 100,000 on his head, both natives of Koyyuru area in the Vizag Agency, surrendered before the Police in Visakhapatnam District.

Moreover, eight Naxalites have already been arrested in the current year (data till March 25, 2018). The SFs had arrested at least 10 Maoists in 2017, in addition to 17 in 2016, according to SATP data.

The SFs, meanwhile, killed two Naxalites in 2017 in addition to five killed in 2016. On February 24, 2017, a Greyhounds team killed two Naxalites, identified as Gemmeli Narayan Rao aka Jambri and Chittibabu, near the Annavaram area under Mampa Police Station limits in Koyyuru Mandal in Visakhapatnam District.

SFs suffered one loss through 2017. On May 5, 2017, a Home Guard, identified as Sheikh Valli, was killed in a landmine blast triggered by the CPI-Maoist cadres on the Lothugedda junction-Balapam stretch in Visakhapatnam District. No such loss was recorded through 2015 and 2016. The last incident, in which a SF trooper was killed in the State, was recorded on January 15, 2014, when suspected CPI-Moist militia members stabbed to death Madivi Somaiah (35), a Special Police Officer (SPO) of Chhattisgarh Police, during a cockfighting event near Kommanapalli village in Dummugudem Mandal in the Khammam District of Andhra Pradesh. At the peak of the Naxal [Left Wing Extremism (LWE)] insurgency, the (then undivided) State had accounted for 56 SF fatalities in 1992.

The security situation in the State has clearly improved in great measure over the past years, and these gains were further consolidated through 2017. In 2016, the State registered five civilian fatalities, the third lowest recorded in such violence since 1968. The lowest civilian fatalities (one) were recorded in 1968; followed by three in 1977. At the peak of such violence, Andhra Pradesh registered 218 civilian deaths in 1991. After the formation of CPI-Maoist in September 2004, the highest civilian fatalities in LWE-linked violence in Andhra Pradesh stood at 132 in 2005. Significantly, no fatality has been recorded in this category, thus far, in the current year (data till March 25, 2018).

Other indicators of violence were also suggestive of significant gains. According to SATP data, no major incident (involving three or more fatalities) was recorded through 2017 as against one in 2016. On May 4, 2016, three CPI-Maoist cadres, identified as Gopal aka Azad (a senior leader of the CPI-Maoist ‘east division committee’ and ‘secretary’ of the ‘Galikonda area committee’), Anand (a senior leader of the ‘Galikonda area committee’), and Parvatakka aka Ramulamma (a dalam member), were killed in an encounter with the Police in Marripakala Forest under Koyyuru Police Station limits in Visakhapatnam District. The number of exchanges of fire between Maoists and SFs (on each occasion Maoists opened fire on seeing SFs during search operations), declined from four in 2016 to three in 2017. No attack targeting economic asset was reported in 2017; there was one such incident in 2016. The Maoists issued bandh (total shut down) calls on three occasions in 2016, but none through 2017. Further, the Maoists were able to organise one ‘praja court (Kangaroo Court)’ in 2016 in Visakhapatnam District, but reportedly failed to organise any such court through 2017.

According to a November 2, 2017, report, Superintendent of Police (Vizag rural), Rahul Dev Sharma claimed that only 10 ‘hardcore’ Maoist leaders were left in north coastal Andhra Pradesh and close to ‘Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) zone’, each with eight to 10 followers. Sharma further stated,

After suffering a heavy blow in the last year’s Baliguda encounter, they are trying to regroup and strengthen their base. Dwindling funds and frequent surrenders have weakened them in the region.

The Baliguda encounter refers to two successive operations in the Bejingi Forest area between Ramgarh and Panasput in the Malkangiri District of Odisha on October 24 and 27, 2016, where SFs killed at least 30 Maoist rebels.

Andhra Pradesh Director-General of Police (DGP), N. Sambasiva Rao, had stated, earlier on October 21, 2017,

Naxal activities have come down in the State and on its borders. The police have been doing a commendable job in combating Naxalism. Seventeen Naxal-related incidents were reported on the State’s borders last year. The number was much bigger earlier.

Rao also appealed to the Maoists to define their expectations from the Government and appealed to them to shun violence and join the mainstream.

Rao also appealed to the Maoists to define their expectations from the Government and appealed to them to shun violence and join the mainstream.

Even so, the remaining Maoist challenges refuses to die. The Maoists orchestrated at least four incidents of landmine explosion in 2017, as against one incident in 2016. In one of these incidents on December 5, 2017, the Maoists triggered a landmine blast and fired upon the Police team near Jakkam village in the Injari Panchayat of Pedabayalu Mandal in the AOB region, during their ‘People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) Week’ celebrations between December 2 and 8, 2017. In addition, the Maoists were involved in at least two incidents of arson in 2017, as against none in 2016.

On April 21, 2017, DGP Sambasiva Rao stated that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and some Police officers were on a Maoist “hit list”. The Maoists had issued death threats to Naidu and some Police officers, holding them responsible for the Baliguda encounter in which 30 rebels were gunned down.

Moreover, according to the latest data made available by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) on July 18, 2017, out of 106 Maoist-affected Districts, at least eight Districts were still in Andhra Pradesh. These include Anantapur, East Godavari, Guntur, Kurnool, Prakasam, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram. Similarly, Visakhapatnam, one of the 35 worst Maoist-affected Districts falls within Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the Governments – both at the Centre and State level – through 2017, continued to provide augment past measures. According to an August 10, 2017, report, the Centre allotted a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) battalion, the 39th Battalion, to provide security for the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat, and the Chief Minister’s camp office-cum-residence located in the capital region, Amaravati. The battalion is the first central force unit deployed to the State capital, and will also take up anti-Naxal operations along the Telangana and Chhattisgarh borders and in the AOB region. CRPF Commandant V.V.N. Prasanna Kumar disclosed,

Four more CRPF battalions are operating in Visakhapatnam and Rajamahendravaram in AP and at Warangal and Bhadrachalam in Telangana. The 39th Battalion will coordinate with the four battalions and is conducting combing operations in Naxal-infested villages on the borders of the two States.

The tremendous consolidation in Andhra Pradesh occurred despite the fact that the Police continues to lag in terms of capacities. At least 11,596 Police posts were vacant in the State as on January 1, 2017, against a sanctioned strength of 61,048, a deficit of 18.99 per cent, according to the latest data provided by the Bureau of Police Research and Development [BPR&D]. Moreover, against the sanctioned strength of the apex Indian Police Service (IPS) Officers in the State at 144, just 120 officers were in position (a deficit of 16.66 per cent), weakening decision-making in the Force. Further, the police-population ratio (Policemen per hundred thousand population) in the State was 95.74 per 100,000, , according to BPR&D, as on January 1, 2016, far lower than the appallingly low national average of 137.11 [over 220 Policemen per 100,000 population are considered necessary even for ‘peacetime policing’]. In addition, as on Januarys 1, 2016, the Police/Area Ratio (number of Policemen per 100 square kilometres) for Andhra Pradesh was 30.95, as against the sanctioned strength of 36.93. The all-India ratio was 60.83, as against a sanction of 77.83 per 100 square kilometres [Disaggregated data of population/area for Andhra Pradesh & Telangana was not available for 2017].

Andhra Pradesh Police has fought the Maoist insurgency over the years, sacrificing valuable lives, and has been successful in driving the Maoist out of the State. The Maoists on other hand, continue to exert efforts to recover influence and some of their lost ground in the State. Addressing the capacity issue in policing – not only in terms of numbers of personnel and officers, but also in all dimensions of resources, technologies, skills, structure and processes – will ensure that this challenge is not only neutralized, but that the possibilities of any future resurgence are also written off.

* Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

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SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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