Visakhapatnam: Vizag, which has been on the radar of terror elements and is close to Maoist hotbeds, will pose new challenges to the police and other enforcement agencies if the Andhra Pradesh government sets up its executive capital – secretariat – in this coastal city.
Though Vizag hasn’t witnessed any terrorist violence, the National Security Guard, Intelligence Bureau and a few other government bodies have always perceived threats to Vizag city. NSG, the elite commando force, has also been conducting drills once in a year in Vizag city for the past few years following intelligence inputs of possible terrorist attacks.
Vizag recently hit the national headlines after seven Navy personnel, including three sailors from the Eastern Naval Command in the city, were arrested over an espionage racket, which has alleged links to Pakistan.
Vizag city has many defence establishments such as the Eastern Naval Command, Naval Armament Depot, NSTL, Hindustan Shipyard Limited, oil refineries of HPCL, and Visakhapatnam Steel Plant besides various research and industrial institutions. The executive capital will heighten its prominence and it might get more focus from terrorists, feel police officers.
A decade ago, the Vizag police had arrested 12 members of Deendar Anjuman, which was planning to carry out a series of blasts in Andhra Pradesh at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI. The Deendar Anjuman operatives were arrested near Rushikonda beach where they had gathered for a meeting.
Vizag Police Commissioner RK Meena said if the proposed location of the secretariat in Vizag becomes a reality, it would toss a major challenge at the men in khaki given the topography of the city.
Along with the executive capital, the office of the Director-General of Police (DGP) will be set up in the city. The Vizag Police Commissionerate will be upgraded with an Additional DG-rank officer as the city police chief.
The police will have to take a lot of measures and impose restrictions for the city’s security. The most arduous task for authorities will be to ensure seamless coordination among the police, Navy, Coast Guard, coastal security police, Intelligence Bureau and a few other departments for swift and decisive actions, said a senior IPS officer.
Periodical law and order problems created by the outlawed CPI (Maoist) in Vizag Agency along the Andhra-Odisha border, which is just 100 kms from Vizag city, will be another major challenge to the police if Vizag becomes a capital city.
Vizag Rural Police chief Babujee Attada said that the activities of the red rebels are now confined to a few areas in Vizag Agency and the AOB. The police have decided to flush out the Maoists in the coming days.
But critics say that this complacency cost the lives of important leaders like the then Araku MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and his predecessor Siveri Soma who were gunned down in Livitiputtu village under Dumbriguda Mandal, close to the Araku Valley in Vizag Agency, in September 2018. Over 30 armed Maoists accosted Sarveswara Rao and Soma and their followers and sprayed bullets on them after holding a "Praja Court" in broad daylight.
The gunmen of the MLA were put to silence and the entire operation was over before the police could be alerted. The killing of the MLA had caused huge embarrassment to the police who had often claimed their superiority with sophisticated arms and a robust information network, said a senior bureaucrat well versed with the Maoist movement in the Agency.
Vizag city has also witnessed two encounters in the heart of the city. Chada Mahinder, alias Jaypal, the city committee secretary of CPI(Maoist), was killed in an alleged encounter near Karasa, close to NAD junction, on February 17, 1994.
Andhra University journalism student and an active member of the Radical Students Union, Ankala Bhaskar, was killed in an alleged exchange of fire close to the runway at the airport on April 16, 1999.
Three more including a woman leader, J Savitri, working in Gitam University were arrested here and killed in Guntur, Warangal and Parvathipuram. Maoists have begun recruiting people from Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand since the local youth in Vizag Agency are not inclined to become a part of their designs.
2004 - Talks held between the government and Maoists
2008 - Maoists kill 37 Greyhounds personnel in Balimela reservoir along Andhra-Odisha border
2017 - Encounter in Ramguda in Malkangiri, south Odisha and 20 km from AP. Top leader Uday, who had taken part in the 2004 talks, among 31 Maoists killed by the police on October 24
2018 - Maoists gun down Araku MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and his predecessor Siveri Soma of TDP after holding a "Praja Court" on September 23