Communist Party of India-Maoist Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) official spokesperson Gumudavelli Venkatakrishna Prasad alias Gudsa Usendi and his wife Santoshi Markam, also a Maoist, were produced before the media in Hyderabad on Thursday.
Prasad, a native of Warangal district, was also a member of the DKSZC state committee and in-charge of propaganda and press unit. Santoshi, from Kondangoan in Chhttisgarh, was a divisional committee member of the DKSZC press unit.
The 45-year-old Maoist is suspected to be the mastermind behind the killing of 76 CRPF personnel near Tarmetla in Chhattisgarh and the ambush of a convoy of Chhattisgarh Congress leaders that claimed 27 lives last year in Bastar.
Prasad, who spent 28 years underground, faces no cases against him in Andhra Pradesh. He was active in Chhattisgarh.
Director General of Police B. Prasada Rao told reporters that the couple surrendered two days ago.
“Prasad came out (of the party) because of differences over the party’s ideology. He was frustrated over the indiscriminate and mindless violence, killing of innocents after branding them as informers and blasting of school buildings,” the police chief said.
The officer also cited the ill-health of the couple as another reason for their surrender.
The couple was produced before the media but was taken away after photographers captured their pictures. Rao later said the couple cannot speak because of their ill-health.
The police chief announced that Prasad would get Rs.20 lakh, the reward announced by the state government for his capture.
Under the policy of the state government, all surrendered underground Maoists get the reward amount for their rehabilitation.
Rao said a surrendered member of the central committee gets Rs.25 lakh and a member of the state committee Rs.20 lakh.
“The money is given only to encourage the underground cadre to surrender and join the mainstream,” Rao said, and claimed that more Maoists were ready to lay down the arms.
“Besides handing over the reward, the government will take all necessary measures to usher in a new lease of life and enable them to lead a life of respect and dignity,” he said.
Attracted by Maoist ideology, Prasad joined the Maoist movement in 1985 after dropping out of school in Hyderabad. He was arrested along with six other Maoists in 1987 in an arms case in Visakhapatnam.
The same year, he was released along with others in exchange for seven Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers abducted by the Maoists.
Rao said the surrendered Maoists would face trial in cases booked against them in Chhattisgarh and other states.
About 600 Maoists have surrendered in Andhra Pradesh in the last three years. Last year, 81 cadres laid down their arms while the number was 297 in 2012 and 212 in 2011.
Rao said 275 Maoists were still underground but only 77 were active in the state while others were in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
As many as 11 out of 17 members of the central committee of the CPI-Maoist are from Andhra Pradesh, which was once considered a stronghold of Maoists. Of six members of its politburo, four are from Andhra Pradesh.