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Portrait of ‘mastermind’
A photograph of Sudarshan taken 15 years ago

Hyderabad, April 6: The brain behind today’s Dantewada massacre is a short, middle-aged, bespectacled widower who looks like a schoolteacher rather than a guerrilla war strategist, Andhra Pradesh police sources say.

Katakam Sudarshan alias Anand, 53, however, is one of the CPI (Maoist)’s top nine leaders and is part of its politburo, which has 15 to 18 members.

As secretary of the outfit’s “central regional bureau”, he is also in charge of operations in the Dandakaranya forests, north Telangana and the Andhra-Orissa border — a belt where the rebels are perhaps most active.

Police sources described Sudarshan, who also uses the aliases of Mohan and Birenderji apart from Anand, as a stocky man only five feet and two inches tall. He is dark-complexioned and has thick hair and greying sideburns.

Analysts say Sudarshan is a brilliant strategist who plans every detail of an attack with clockwork precision. He is wanted in at least 17 criminal cases in Andhra, including several murders, and carries a Rs 12-lakh reward on his head.

Sudarshan, the police sources said, had recently been given the command of a company of the Maoists’ People’s Guerrilla Army to try and stall the Centre’s anti-Naxalite operation, Green Hunt.

TV footage of an injured jawan

A Maoist source confirmed this, saying: “Mohan has been given the responsibility of delaying Green Hunt.”

Born to the weaver community in Bellampally, Adilabad district, Sudarshan had studied at a polytechnic in Warangal before joining the People’s War Group of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah in the 1980s. For the past three decades, he has been working in the field, leading the Maoist movement from north Telangana to the Adivasi-inhabited regions of Dandakaranya.

A few years ago he lost his life partner Sadhana, who was secretary of the Maoists’ Adilabad district unit in north Telangana.

In a recent interview, Sudarshan had said Green Hunt was not “something unexpected” and added that: “We have been in the middle of a cruel, bitter war for several years.”

He had alleged that the Centre wanted to neutralise the top Maoist leadership one by one besides taking the guerrillas on in the jungles. “The arrest of Khobad Ghandy was part of this plan,” he said.

He had claimed that government agencies were on the trail of the CPI (Maoist) central committee and had arrested eight of its 45 members and killed 22 others.

The Maoists’ top nine, apart from Sudarshan, include Ganapati alias Mupalla Laxman Rao, Mallojula Koteshwar Rao alias Prahlad, Prashant Bose alias Kishan Da, Nambala Keshav Rao alias Gangana, Cherkuri Rajkumar alias Uday, Mallojula Venugopal alias Vivek, Rajesh Da and Balraj alias Arvind. Each carries a cash reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head.

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