Wife in prison, lawyer rose through Maoist ranks to become spokesperson, now head of DKSZC
The Dandakaranya Area Special Committee (DKSZC) appointed a new secretary in August last year but did not announce it, according to police who were informed following the surrender of a Maoist to the Telangana police last week.
Ravula Ranjith, son of the late DKSZC secretary Ramanna, revealed that his father had been replaced by K Ramachandra Reddy – a former lawyer who had long been the Maoist spokesperson under the wartime name of Gudsa Usendi and later Vikalp.
According to Bastar IG P Sundarraj, Reddy has been a spokesperson for the DKSZC for at least 7 years. “He had been a surface worker before his wife’s arrest, after which he went into hiding. His children are students based in Hyderabad and his wife Malti was transferred from Raipur Central Prison to Hyderabad Prison in 2020, ”he said.
Security officials say it is unprecedented for the Maoists not to make an announcement of their new DKSZC secretary, more than 15 months after Ramanna’s disappearance. “There were suitors like Ganesh Uikey or Sujatha, who even ran the business as acting secretary, both of whom are superior to Reddy. He is also not originally from the Bastar region, which is a problem faced by several local executives. Maybe these are the reasons they haven’t made his name public, ”Sundarraj said.
Who Reddy is and how he rose through the Maoist ranks is a story spanning three decades in Chhattisgarh.
In the DKSZC member’s police record, Reddy stands out above the rest, as the only passport-sized photo professionally clicked in a list of images and screenshots.
Born in Karimnagar, Reddy moved to former Madhya Pradesh in the 1990s and completed his LLB at Raipur University. When the state was formed, Reddy was a practicing lawyer living in the city of Bhilai with his wife K Shanti Priya, who is later also known as Malti, and two children. According to senior police officials, Shanti Priya and Reddy were lawyers practicing in the district court and were active in activist circles, journalists and other progressive groups. These friendships prompted many uncomfortable questions for journalists and state lawyers after 2007.
Malti was arrested in Bhilai in January 2007, after she and a few accomplices dropped Maoist weapons and literature at the side of a road in Raipur. When an IAS was removed by Maoists in 2012, Malti’s release was one of the demands put forward by the Maoists, but it was rejected.
Reddy, meanwhile, went from a surface worker to an underground executive. He was in charge of the East Bastar then North Bastar division – simultaneously working on ideological expansion – before becoming the Maoist spokesperson and interlocutor of journalists. Maoists work by aliases and Reddy had several.
Of the best known Vijay and Uday, he also held the nicknames Vikalp and Gudsa Usendi – names worn by the Maoist group’s spokesperson and authorized messengers. While Vikalp is the pen name of the person who writes for the DKZC, Gudsa Usendi was a 17-year-old tribal who died as a Maoist.