AP cops hunting for naxalites accused of terrorising villagers

RALLAGEDDA (VISAKHAPATNAM): An eerie calm envelops the small village of Rallagedda two days after an alleged attack by policemen hunting naxalites. The tribals say that their only fault was to have provided ‘shelter’ to two suspected Naxals in their village.

In what is reminiscent of the infamous Vakapalli incident in Vizag Agency in 2007, a 200-strong police party, including members of the elite Greyhounds, swooped on the village in the wee hours of Friday, dragged people out of their homes and beat them up indiscriminately. The elderly, children and women, including pregnant women, were not spared.

The cops first cut off the power supply and then entered the village around 2.45am. They knocked on the doors of the tribal households, claiming to be ‘annalu’ (local parlance for Maoists). For the next two-and-a-half hours, they rained lathi blows on the villagers. Dummy grenades and smoke bombs were exploded to terrorise the people. The cops even fired five rounds in the air. In the melee, one of the two alleged militia members escaped.

Twenty villagers, including a physically challenged person and a pregnant woman, were injured in the mayhem. “They came like thieves. Masking themselves by wearing monkey caps and full-length jackets. They acted like goondas,” Sitamma, wife of Maoist militia member Sinderi Karla who is in police custody, told TOI.

“They did not even leave the children and pregnant women,” said Vantala Rama Rao, a physically challenged Vidya volunteer. Rao received five sutures on his head.

Korra Lakshmi, who is five months pregnant, said: “They pushed me with force. When my husband resisted, they dragged him out and took off his clothes. They humiliated the men by removing their clothes.”

Vantala Prem Singh, the alleged militia member who escaped, told TOI that he and three others had surrendered after police charged them with occupying the APFDC coffee plantations in nearby Balapam panchayat on the orders of the Maoists. “Though we had no role in the Maoist activities, we were framed in several cases,” he said.

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