Maoist Leader, Mastermind of Several Attacks on Security Forces, Dies of Heart Attack in Bastar Forests

CNN-News18

Guwahati: Top Maoist leader Ravula Srinivas, alias Ramanna, who was believed to be the mastermind of deadly attack on CRPF in 2010 in Dantewada, has died of cardiac arrest in forests of Chhattisgarh, sources said. As many as 76 soldiers were killed in the attack.

"Initial suspicion was that a section commander by the similar name had died. But subsequent probe by various agencies has confirmed that it was central committee member Ramanna who had died of a cardiac arrest," a CRPF official told CNN News18.

However, the outlawed CPI (Maoist) is yet to issue a statement on this, as the outfit usually does in the event of a leader's death.

He was reportedly cremated in South Bastar jungles on Sunday. Ramanna was among the top five leaders of the group along with Ganpathy, Basavaraj, Saket and Sonu.

"We have information from various sources that Ramanna, the secretary of Dandakarnya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) of Maoists, died on Saturday night and was cremated at a forest between Pamed and Basaguda villages in Bijapur district," Inspector General of Police, Bastar range, Sundarraj P said. "The police have got lot of evidence to corroborate this information, but we are still waiting for a conclusive

evidence to come to our knowledge," he said.

Sources in Chhattisgarh’s state intelligence say that Ramanna was spearheading the outfits movement most efficiently in his area even though the movement in other areas was breaking apart amid reports of infighting and mass surrenders.

Ramanna, 56, carried a cash reward of 40 lakh on his head and was believed to be the mastermind of several attacks on security forces in Chhattisgarh, including the deadly attack on CRPF in Chintalnar village of Dantewada district in April 2010, attack on security forces in Sukma in March 2014 and April 2017. Over a hundred soldiers were killed in these attacks.

Hailing from Telengana's Siddipet, Ramanna was brought to the highest body of Naxals the Central Committee in 2014. He was also the secretary of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) and was responsible for planning and executing all big attacks carried out by Maoists against security forces in Chhatisgarh December 9, 2019.

His wife Savitri alias Sodhi Hidme, a local tribal, is also a key Maoist leader in south Bastar and is secretary of the Kistaram area committee (KAC). Their son Ranjit is also an active member of the KAC. Ramanna, considered a strategist in inter-state Naxal operations, was in-charge of the outlawed movement in Bastar and areas bordering Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Following his death, local cadres may to try to look for a chance to be elevated to his position as since a long time, preferences have been given to Naxals from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for the top posts, resulting in infighting, another police official said, on condition of anonymity. Ramanna, who was active in south Bastar for the past 30 years, was made DKSZC secretary in 2011, he said.

He played a key role in establishing DKSZC in Bastar and roped in locals in the movement, he said.

His death would further weaken the Maoist movement in the region, the official said.

(With inputs from Suhas Munshi)