In the book of the security forces and even the Maoists, the Godavari river and the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border are a Line of Control of sorts. Both geographical and in the mindspace of the two forces.
While the Maoists have a field run, controlling large swathes of land in Chhattisgarh, they have not been able to have a sway in north Telangana districts ever since they were driven out by the security agencies in 2005-06. Which is why the Maoist daring to kidnap a Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader from Telangana and kill him in Sukma district in Chhattisgarh has shocked the political and security establishment.
On Monday night, TRS leader Nalluri Srinivas Rao (pic below) was abducted by Maoists from Kothur village in Bhadadri-Kothagudem district and was found killed on Friday near Puttapadu village in Sukma district. The police say he was not an active politician and was a former member of the Mandal Parishad in his village. What is not denied is that he wielded considerable influence in his Cherla mandal.
According to his wife Durga, close to 20 unidentified people armed with weapons and lathis had dragged her husband out of their home and taken him away. When she and their son Praveen had tried to resist, they had been assaulted.
This killing comes three months after the killing of Bhima Mandavi, a BJP MLA from Dantewada in the run-up to the general elections in April. The usual Maoist strategy was dubbing its victim was adopted in Srinivas Rao’s case as well. A letter signed by Sharada, self-styled secretary of the CPI(Maoist) found near his body claimed Rao was a police informer and was working with the anti-naxal agency of the Telangana police. Another charge against Rao was that he had grabbed 70 acres of tribal land and got the protesters arrested by the police by allegedly foisting false cases.
The police believe this is the trademark Maoist tactic to instill fear in local mandal-level politicians and contractors so that they can be coerced to cough up money when demanded. By this act of stepping into Telangana and abducting a person with political connections, the Maoists have tried to demonstrate that it would be foolhardy to dismiss them as a spent force.
This is a version of guerrilla warfare where they have carried out a surgical strike of sorts in another patch and retreated to the safety of Chhattisgarh after committing the offence.