“He is a VIP among the Maoist leaders whom we are chasing in Bastar,” said an Indian Police Officer (IPS) officer posted in the troubled central portion of Chhattisgarh.
The person being referred to was GP Reddy (53) alias Arjun alias Ravinder, a member of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), the body which administers what the Maoists term as the ‘liberated area’ of Dandakaranya, a region largely co-located with Chhattisgarh’s Bastar.
In Hyderabad, on Friday afternoon, following days of interrogation, the Andhra Pradesh police made public the surrender of Reddy and his wife Sumitra.
Informed sources indicated that the surrender was in the pipeline for many days following which Reddy, a bachelor degree holder, and Sumitra trekked from Bastar to reach Andhra Pradesh. While Reddy carried a reward of Rs 20 lakh on his head, his wife was described as a ‘hardcore Maoist’ though the reward amount was not immediately known.
For those having to deal with Reddy, his surrender is a cause for relief. No ordinary man, he commanded the Battalion No. 2, formed as recently as 2012, which guards and operates in Abujmadh, an unsurveyed geographical expanse where the top leadership of the Maoist insurgency is believed to be holed up. Only a few weeks ago did he replace Ramder, another dreaded Maoist military planner, to lead the battalion. “It is a good development for us,” said Inspector General of Police (IGP) Bastar SRP Kalluri. Among Reddy’s recent and known action is the massacre of 26 troopers from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at the entry to Abujmadh in Bastar’s Narayanpur district in June 2010. Police sources indicate he was also instrumental in the 2009 killings of a Superintendent of Police (SP) and his 25 men in Rajnandgaon district, another location no too far from Abujmadh.
Among those who’ve met Reddy is journalist and author Shubhranshu Choudhary. He compared Reddy’s looks to those of slain Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) boss Velupillai Prabhakaran and described Reddy’s loss as a ‘huge setback’ to the Maoists. “Arjun, as he was known, had the reputation and the looks of a deadly military commander and his elevation in the Maoist hierarchy is hardly surprising. What is significant is that if dedicated people like Arjun are leaving the insurgency, things must be in a very, very bad state for them,” he added.
A native of Warangal district in Telangana, Reddy spent over two active decades as a part of insurgency. His insight about the top leaders’ whereabouts, tactics etc is bound to rattle the Maoists. Reddy is believed to be among the early members of the erstwhile group People’s War (PW), who were asked by their leader Kondapalli Seetharamaiah to explore and establish safer sanctuaries in the Dandakaranya region, away from the Andhra Pradesh police’s reach.
Interestingly, despite a ‘career’ spent committing crimes in what is present day Chhattisgarh, the reward on Reddy’s head in the state is merely Rs 2 lakh, whereas that in Andhra Pradesh Rs 20 lakh. Not surprisingly, he took the route which mirrored that of GVK Prasad alias ‘Gudsa Usendi’, who gave up before the AP police earlier this year.