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Major naxalite attack on police feared in Andhra Pradesh

By K. Srinivas Reddy

HYDERABAD, DEC. 19. Police fear a major naxalite attack on them inAndhra Pradesh even as the debate continues over the extension of ceasefire between the Maoists and the State Government.

Police in all the extremist-affected districts are on a state of high alert with intelligence reports suggesting that the Maoists had formed a special company within the People's Guerrilla Liberation Army (PGLA) in the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKASZC) areas, abutting the districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar and Khammam and parts of Warangal. The squads are said to have carried out a "recce" of "vulnerable" police stations.

The PGLA company, police believe, could be unleashed in the event of the talks breaking down. It consists of over 75 highly-trained and heavily-armed guerrillas capable of "spectacular actions" on the lines of the raid in Koraput, Orissa, this year. "We cannot rule out such an attack in Andhra Pradesh but we are prepared," a top police officer said.

`Explosives collected'

Police sources say the fears of an "impending attack" were not ill-founded as the Maoists were known to have collected huge amounts of explosives. For instance, hundreds of plastic buckets, which could only be used as containers for improvised explosive devices were brought from a district.

The Maoists are believed to have taken away three tractors from Karimnagar and they could be used in the "attack." Tractors were used in the attack on the Eturunagaram police station two years ago with directional mines mounted on them.

Police have stepped up security cover for vulnerable stations, have began an exercise to unearth landmines believed to have been planted on roads, especially in forest areas, and have alerted "probable targets" to take utmost precautions.

`Two-pronged strategy'

The Maoist leadership appears to have adopted a two-pronged strategy. It has asked its cadres to keep the powder dry and take up "counter-offensive acts in self-defence." The cadres have been told to intensify their counter-offensive campaign from December 25 if the State Government does not stop combing operations and does not take action against police officials responsible for the recent firing incidents.

It is also building up pressure on the elected representatives to convince the Government to extend the ceasefire period. Congress workers in Karimnagar were directed by the Maoists to rush to Hyderabad and appeal to the Home Minister, K. Jana Reddy, on the ceasefire extension. The delegation was led by the Congress MLA, D. Sreedhar Babu. Incidentally, Mr. Babu's father, Sripada Rao, former Speaker of the State Assembly, was killed by naxalites.

In Adilabad, the Zilla Parishad passed a unanimous resolution urging the Government to extend the ceasefire. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti MP, T. Madhusudhan Reddy, moved the resolution and was supported by all the legislators. In Nizamabad, close followers of a Congress Minister were asked to convince the latter to take up the ceasefire issue.

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