A ruling TDP MLA and a former legislator of his party were shot dead on Sunday by Maoists in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam district, police said.
In what is said to be first major attack by the Maoists on public representatives in nearly a decade, K. Sarveswara Rao, 45, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA from Araku (Reserved-Scheduled Tribe) and his party colleague and former MLA Siveri Soma, 52, were attacked near Thutangi village, about 125 km from the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, while they were returning from a programme at a village in Araku, a tribal area.
They were intercepted by a group of armed Maoists, including women, while they were returning in two vehicles.
After ordering others to leave, they began talking to the MLA and the former MLA about their alleged role in mining in agency areas. They later pumped bullets into the two leaders, killing them on the spot. Both were shot in the head and chest.
Director General of Police Ch. Srikanth said that the crime occurred between noon and 1 p.m. about 15 km from the Odisha border.
He said that the Maoists snatched the weapons from the two leaders’ security guards before sending them away.
Senior police officials rushed to the spot as th ebodies were taken to the King George Hospital at Visakhapatnam for autopsy.
Police said both Rao and Soma had received threats from Maoists in the past.
Following the killings, police was put on high alert. Public representatives were advised to take precautions while visiting their respective constituencies.
Rao was elected from Araku on a YSR Congress Party ticket in the 2014 elections by defeating Soma of the TDP. In 2016, Rao switched loyalties to the TDP.
In July this year, tribals had protested against the MLA for allegedly obtaining mining lease in the name of his brother-in-law. They had alleged that quarrying of black stones was damaging the houses of tribals at Guda village.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister N. Chinna Rajappa said that a probe will be conducted to find out how the Maoists managed to attack the two leaders.
He pointed out that Maoist activities in Andhra Pradesh were controlled in the last four years, though they were reported to be active in neighbouring Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.
Outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist was believed to have considerably weakened in its former stronghold on the Andhra-Odisha border in recent years following intensive police operations by both the states.