Gumudavelli Venkatakrishna Prasad alias Gudsa Usendi, official spokesperson of the Communist Party of India-Maoist Dandakaranya special zonal committee (DKSZC), and his wife Santoshi Markam, also a Maoist, gave up arms two days ago but an official announcement was made only Thursday at a news conference by the state police chief.
Prasad, a native of Warangal district, was also a member of the DKSZC state committee and in-charge of the propaganda and press unit.
Santoshi, from Kondangoan in Chhattisgarh, was a divisional committee member of the DKSZC press unit.
The 45-year-old Maoist is suspected to be the mastermind behind the killing of 76 Central Reserve Police Force personnel near Tarmetla in Chhattisgarh and the ambush of a convoy of Chhattisgarh Congress leaders that claimed 27 lives last year in Bastar.
Prasad, who spent 28 years underground, faces no cases against him in Andhra Pradesh. He was active in Chhattisgarh.
Director General of Police B. Prasada Rao told reporters that the couple surrendered two days ago.
“Prasad came out (of the party) because of differences over the party’s ideology. He was frustrated over the indiscriminate and mindless violence, killing of innocents after branding them as informers and blasting of school buildings,” he said.
The officer also cited the ill-health of the couple as another reason for their surrender.
The couple was presented before the media but was taken away after photographers took their pictures. Rao later said the couple cannot speak because of their ill-health.
The police chief announced that Prasad would get Rs.20 lakh, the reward announced by the state government for his capture.
Under the policy of the state government, all surrendered underground Maoists get the reward amount for their rehabilitation.
Rao said a surrendered member of the central committee gets Rs.25 lakh and a member of the state committee Rs.20 lakh.
“The money is given only to encourage the underground cadre to surrender and join the mainstream,” Rao said, and claimed that more Maoists were ready to lay down arms.
“Besides handing over the reward, the government will take all necessary measures to usher in a new lease of life and enable them to lead a life of respect and dignity,” he said.
Incentives offered by the Andhra government for surrendered extremists and its policy for their rehabilitation is believed to be the reason behind Prasad opting to surrender.
Attracted by Maoist ideology, Prasad joined the Maoist movement in 1985 after dropping out of college in Hyderabad. He was arrested along with six other Maoists in 1987 in an arms case in Visakhapatnam.
The same year, he was released along with others in exchange for seven Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers abducted by the Maoists.
Rao said the surrendered Maoists would face trial in cases booked against them in Chhattisgarh and other states.
Prasad had many aliases but he was known among the cadre as Gudsa Usendi since 2006. The name was given by the Maoist outfit as a tribute to Gudsa Usendi, a 17-year-old tribal killed in a gunfight with police at Abujhmarh in Chhattisgarh in 2000.
About 600 Maoists have surrendered in Andhra Pradesh in the last three years. Last year, 81 cadres laid down arms while the number was 297 in 2012 and 212 in 2011.
Rao said 275 Maoists are still underground but only 77 were active in the state while others were in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
As many as 11 out of 17 members of the central committee of the CPI-Maoist are from Andhra Pradesh, which was once considered a stronghold of Maoists. Of six members of its politburo, four are from Andhra Pradesh.