The Communist Party of India (Maoist) on Thursday confirmed that two of its top leaders died of COVID-19. A day after the police's claim, the CPI (Maoist) issued a statement to the media confirming the death of its Telangana State Committee secretary and the party’s Central Committee member, Yapa Narayana alias Haribhushan and Indravati Area Committee member Siddaboina Sarakka alias Bharatakka. The banned outfit said that both of them had contracted COVID-19. Haribhushan, who also suffered from asthma and bronchitis, died on 21 June while Bharatakka died on 22 June. The Maoist outfit said that their last rites were conducted in the presence of a number of people and a meeting in their memory was held on 22 June.
The confirmation came a day after Khammam district Superintendent of Police (SP) Sunil Dutt said that Haribhushan died of cardiac arrest on 21 June. The SP said that they had credible information about Haribhushan (50) being sick for the past few days as he was infected with COVID-19. Haribhushan’s death is a huge blow to the Maoists. Police claimed that the extremists have lost their presence in Telangana.
Carrying a reward of Rs 40 lakh on his head, he was one of the most wanted Maoist leaders and was trying to revive Maoist influence in Telangana.
He is believed to have succumbed in Bastar forest in neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The police had earlier claimed that several Maoist leaders had tested positive for the coronavirus. The police got information that Maoist leaders Kookati Venkanna, Sharada, Sonu, Vinod, Nandu, Iduma, Deve, Mula Devender Reddy, Damodar and Bhadru, were suffering from COVID-19 and other health problems. Maoist Central Committee leaders Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraju and Mallojula Venugopal Rao alias Abhay had earlier released statements claiming that no one in the party was infected with the coronavirus.
‘Will provide medical treatment’: Police Respond
The police official said the Maoist party's top leadership should take responsibility for the death of Haribhushan, Nandu, Soubrai and other leaders. He said the Maoist party leaders and members who were infected with COVID-19 were dying as they were unable to get proper treatment. The SP said the Maoist leadership was committing human rights violations by preventing the party leaders and members who were keen on leaving the party to avail treatment. The police appealed to the Maoists who are suffering from COVID-19 to surrender and seek better treatment. The official assured all possible help from the government to the surrendered Maoists.
Last month, Dakshina Bastar tech team commander Kursam Ganga alias Aithu alias Rammaiah died of COVID-19 while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Khammam. Meanwhile, Telangana police are urging Maoists to come back to mainstream life by leaving their arms behind. Ramagundam Police Commissioner V Sathyanarayana on Thursday met Madhuramma, in Peddapalli town. Madhuramma is mother of Mallojula Venugopal Rao, a top brass of CPI (Maoist) Party. The Commissioner enquired Madhuramma about her health and family condition. He said, "There is nothing that they can achieve through their ideology and violence. Leave the forests and come to public life. We will provide medical treatment for COVID-19." He added that the police and government is ready to rehabilitate them if they come back to public life.
(This story was published on The News Minute and has been published here with permission)