New Delhi, July 3 (ANI): The death of top Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in Andhra Pradesh's Adilabad District has come as a big blow to the Maoist movement in India, as he was a top-ranking member of the Maoists' central committee, who had specialised in field-craft as well.
The Andhra Pradesh police reportedly shot dead Azad in an encounter in the Jogapur forest area early on Friday morning, while he was attempting to cross into the neighbouring Maharashtra.
Officials of the Andhra Pradesh Special Intelligence Branch said a task force of Adilabad police raided a hideout of fiteen kilometer from Maharashtra border, where a Maoist meeting was on. Police said Azad died in an exchange of fire.
"We raided on a tip-off. About 25 Maoists were present there. The fire-fight started late at night and ended at 3 a.m. two persons were shot dead by police, while the rest escaped," said an official of the Special Intelligence Branch.
"One of the dead has been identified as Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, the CPI (Maoist) spokesperson. We did not know that he too was at the meeting," he added.
Azad was a member of the central committee of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and carried a reward of 1.2 million rupees on his head.
Azad, who did his MTech in Warangal, was linked to the Maoist movement for more than 35 years and used to write articles for magazines on Maoist ideology.
There are reports that Azad was assigned the task of revising the Maoist movement in India.
"He had apparently been tasked with reviving the Maoist movement in Andhra Pradesh. He was a member of the Urban Sub-Committee (USCO) and was in charge of the South Western Regional Bureau (SWRB) of Maoists, which coordinates the movement in Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat," The Hindu reports.
Meanwhile, there are also reports that Azad's death could could lead to reprisal attacks in Maoist strongholds in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal following which the security agencies have sounded a high alert across these five States.
Maoist attacks have increased this year, especially after the Government launched a coordinated security offensive involving tens of thousands of police trying to flush out the rebels from their jungle hideouts in central and eastern India. (ANI)