HYDERABAD, India, 16 August 2005 — In a major offensive on the Independence Day, Maoists killed Congress legislator Chittem Narsi Reddy and nine others in an attack at Narayanpet in Mahbubnagar district in Andhra Pradesh.
Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy told a news conference that a Maoist action team shot dead Narsi Reddy and nine others, including his son Chittem Venkateshwar Reddy, Narayanpet municipal commissioner Ram Mohan, bodyguard Raja Reddy, driver Srinu, personal assistant of revenue divisional officer and four Congress activists. The attack was staged when the legislator was inaugurating a school on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day.
The Maoists stormed the school premises at around 1.15 p.m. and opened fire with AK-47 rifles at the MLA and his entourage, killing them on the spot. An undetermined number of people sustained bullet injuries and were taken to Narayanpet hospital. The bodies of those murdered were also taken to the same hospital.
Outlawed Maoist rebels had hoisted black flags in several Andhra Pradesh districts to protest yesterday’s nationwide celebrations marking the 58th anniversary of India’s independence from British rule in 1947.
Reddy is the first top-rung politician to die in an attack since the Congress party took power from the regional Telugu Desam party in provincial elections in Andhra Pradesh in May last year.
The killings caused shockwaves in the state and Chief Minister Reddy, who after assuming office held out the olive branch to the rebels, called an emergency meeting of his officials to review security. The attack occurred in the strife-torn district of Mahbubnagar where two police stations were attacked in quick succession in June.
None of Andhra Pradesh’s ultra left-wing insurgent groups has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, the bloodiest since the breakdown of peace talks between the state administration and the Maoists in January.
“The attack appeared to have been carried out by a special action team of Maoist guerrillas located in the adjoining Nallamalla forests,” Inspector-General of Police R.P. Meena said. The attack came four days after the Indian government ruled out direct talks with ultra-left militant outfits. Home Minister Shivraj Patil last Thursday rejected a parliamentary panel’s recommendation for direct peace talks between the federal government and banned Maoist groups but said New Delhi would offer assistance to states fighting the scourge.
Maoists, who have strongholds in five of India’s 29 states, say they are battling for greater rights for indigenous tribes and landless farmers. The three-decades-old conflict has claimed thousands of lives, including 10,000 dead in Andhra Pradesh alone.
At least 130 people have been killed by Maoist insurgents in Andhra Pradesh since January while the police have killed 90 suspected guerrillas in the same period in the coastal state.