Amaravati: The slaying of MLA K Sarveswara Rao and former legislator Siveri Soma in the Visakhapanam agency area on Sunday has exposed the chinks in the state’s armour in taking on the Naxalites.
For long, the security forces have been taking it easy under the impression that Naxalism is a thing of past as the Greyhounds had driven them out of the undivided Andhra Pradesh, prior to the bifurcation of the state.
Though the state was aware of its Achilles heel, it could do nothing about it even though its people’s representatives and its security officers remained sitting ducks for the Maoists.
The Maoists, who had regrouped themselves of late with heat having died down on them, carried out the operation in Visakhapatnam agency with effortless ease.
After killing the two leaders they disappeared into the jungles while the police were afraid of moving out of their posts.
Since there were instructions to the police not to rush to any scene of outrage by Maoists blindly as they could be using it as a ploy to carry out bigger operations, no policeman stirred from their police stations, giving the ultras all the time in the world to make good their escape.
The police appear to have mistaken more than a decade-old lull in AOB as indication of the movement having been wiped out but little did the policy makers realise that absence of Greyhounds had only emboldened the ultras to recruit young cadres and draw up plans to carry out operations with newly-constituted action teams.
After bifurcation of the state, the Centre promised support for Greyhounds centre but there was no progress so far.
The state too decided that it was not a priority issue as the impression that gained ground was that Naxalism had died out.
Another reason which weighed heavily with the state was that it could not afford setting up the centre with its own funds, as it is already hard pressed for funds.
In fact, the state government has submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for a Greyhounds Training Centre with an estimated cost of Rs 858.37 crore at Visakhapatnam.
“There was no response till date from the Centre,” rued A Venkataratnam, OSD to Home Minister.
Telangana has the Greyhounds training centre in Hyderabad. In fact, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had raised the issue with the Centre in the days when TDP was still part of NDA.
A senior officer, who worked for five years in the Greyhounds in undivided AP, said on condition of anonymity: “Weak police cannot take on Naxals.”
He said that there must be coordinated efforts in dealing with the Naxalism.
“The Centre should put in place a mechanism whereby intelligence on the movements of the Naxalites could be shared among the affected states,” he suggested.