Friday, August 19, 2005 (Hyderabad) :
Two noted naxal sympathisers, Kalyan Rao and Varavara Rao, have been arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police under the Public Security Act.
The arrests come just two days after the state government reimposed the ban on naxal group CPI (Maoist) and its frontal organisations.
The ban followed the killing of senior Congress MLA Narsi Reddy and eight others on Independence Day.
After the ban, naxal sympathisers had been expecting a crackdown. The first person to be arrested was the high-profile public face of the naxal movement Varavara Rao.
Rao, along with Gadar and Kalyan Rao, had represented the naxals during the talks with the government in October last year.
Police had reached Varavara Rao’s house at 3.30 am (IST) and arrested him around 5 am (IST).
He was arrested without a warrant, and taken to a police station in the old city of Hyderabad. Varavara protested and sought an arrest warrant from the police.
"You want to arrest me under the Public Security Act under which the Revolutionaries Writers Association has been banned. Why can’t you get a warrant to arrest me under this Act ?" Rao said.
Police however told Varavara Rao that under the Andhra Pradesh public Security Act they did not need a warrant to make an arrest. "There is a ban. We can arrest," said a police inspector.
By evening, Kalyan Rao had also been taken into police custody.
The arrest evoked protest from fellow naxal sympathiser Gadar, who protested outside the police station and later met the chief minister to request him to release Varavara Rao.
"On one hand, he will invite us for tiffin, lunch and on the other hand, he will put us in jail," Gadar said.
The irony is not lost on anyone. Just ten months ago, leaders like Varavara Rao and Riaz were invited for peace talks and honoured as state guests.
Riaz has already fallen to police bullets and Rao has now been arrested. This perhaps reflects the change that has taken place in Andhra Pradesh.
The state government has not reacted to the arrest so far. Police has reportedly asked for invocation of the Disturbed Areas Act in four naxal-affected districts around the Nallamalla forests that would arm them with extraordinary powers.