The killing of Bheemeshwar Rao, who was said to be closely associated with the ruling TRS, by CPI (Maoist) in Mulugu district, is the first formidable challenge thrown by them to police forces in recent times.
A few months ago, police enhanced combing operations following inputs about movement of Maoist squads in northern Telangana districts abutting Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. In fact, the Telangana Intelligence department and local police are continuously keeping tabs on Maoists.
It it not an exaggeration to say that police had the upper hand in the ongoing battle with the outlawed Maoists for the past few years. Police had to step up their operations after movements of Maoists squads were noticed in Asifabad district.
During the searches, three or four exchanges of fire took place.
Bhaskar alias Adellu, Maoist State Committee member, was believed to have escaped from police during these exchanges of fire.
Following this, DGP M. Mahender Reddy flew to Asifabad and had a series of meetings with the field-level officers, apparently to motivate them and plan operations to check intrusion of Maoists.
Within last few weeks, eight Maoists were neutralised by police forces in ‘exchanges of fire’ reported in Asifabad, Bhadradri Kothagudem and Mulugu districts.
But the killing of Bheemeshwar Rao by Maoists in Venkatapuram mandal came as a jolt to the police forces who stepped up combing operations with their elite commando forces like Greyhounds.
The victim was not a top leader of the TRS or an influential person locally.
Yet the murder by Maoists in Venkatapura mandal assumed significance since top police officials of Telangana State and Central Reserve Police Force met recently in Venkatpur to formulate strategy to check Maoists.
Police sources said the killing was executed by Bhadradri Kothagudem East Godavari (BKEG) area committee secretary M. Jogulu alias Sudhakar.
It is yet to be ascertained if Sudhakar was physically present when the plot was executed.
However, it is believed that a group of six militia members from Chattisgarh participated in the killing.
The victim’s family members told the police that ‘Maoists in plain clothes’ came to their house in the dead of night.
One of the family members said that though a couple of Maoists were carrying firearms, one of them carrying a knife stabbed Rao to death. It is suspected that by the time the local police learnt about the killing, the Maoists would have crossed Telangana border and disappeared into Chattisgarh forests.
In the past one year, presence of the Maoists in northern Telangana districts was confined to their movements now and then.
The major violence perpetrated by them was the alleged killing of an MPTC member Srinivasa Rao in mid-Sileru area of Charla mandal.
Barring that, no violent incident involving them was reported in the area.
Recently, they blew up land mines on the roads at a couple of places near mid-Sileru project area.
However, killing a person within a few days of top police officials holding a meeting in the area created ripples locally.