- NDTV accessed two videos showing lawmaker's car surrounded by Maoists
- Eyewitnesses say lawmarker's car was intercepted by about 60 Maoists
- Question many are asking is if there was a security lapse
48 hours after an Andhra Pradesh lawmaker and a ruling Telugu Desam Party leader were shot dead by Maoists in Visakhapatnam district, NDTV has accessed two small video clips that show the lawmaker's car being surrounded by Maoists.
The first video, shot from a cellphone, briefly shows the SUV the lawmaker was travelling in, surrounded by nearly a dozen Maoists on an unpaved road in Livitiputtu village of Dumbriguda mandal in the district, about 15 km from the Odisha border. The second video shows two Maoists running away from the spot after shooting the lawmaker dead. The videos were shot by eyewitnesses.
Eyewitnesses said Araku lawmaker Kidari Sarveswar Rao and former lawmaker Sivari Soma were intercepted by a large group of 60 armed Maoists, including women, when they were returning after a party function from Livitiputtu in two vehicles on Sunday. After engaging in talks with the duo regarding the contentious issue of mining in the area, the Maoists shot them dead from point blank range.
After the brutal daylight killings, the question many are now asking is whether there was a security lapse on the part of the lawmaker or the police.
Police sources have shared a letter given by them to politicians, specifically Sarveswar Rao, that they should be extremely cautious this week as it is being observed as the formation week by Maoist groups, and they may resort to extreme measures. They in fact warn the leaders that they should not venture out without police protection.
Paderu lawmaker Eswaramma Giddi says Mr Rao's personal assistant had informed the sub inspector of Dumbriguda about the Araku lawmaker's travel plans. Usually, during such a visit, about 10 personnel from a special police force are assigned to the lawmaker for security, but no such arrangements were reportedly made. The sub inspector has now been suspended.
Mr Rao was elected from Araku, a constituency reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, on YSR Congress Party ticket in the 2014 elections, defeating Soma of the TDP. Two years later, Mr Rao joined the TDP, at the same time that Paderu MLA Eswaramma.
According to the police, both of them had received threats from Maoists in the past, the most recent in April 2018. In July, the tribals had protested against Mr Rao for allegedly obtaining mining lease in the name of his relative.