Wife in jail, lawyer rose through Maoist ranks to be spokesperson, now DKSZC chief

Ravula Ranjith, son of deceased DKSZC secretary Ramanna, disclosed that his father was succeeded by K Ramachandra Reddy — a former lawyer who had been the Maoist spokesperson for a long time under the nom de guerre of Gudsa Usendi and later Vikalp.

The Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) appointed a new secretary in August last year but did not announce it, according to police who were informed of the same following a Maoist’s surrender before the Telangana Police last week.

Ravula Ranjith, son of deceased DKSZC secretary Ramanna, disclosed that his father was succeeded by K Ramachandra Reddy — a former lawyer who had been the Maoist spokesperson for a long time under the nom de guerre of Gudsa Usendi and later Vikalp.

According to Bastar IG P Sundarraj, Reddy has been a spokesperson for the DKSZC for at least the past 7 years. “He had been an overground worker before his wife’s arrest, after which he went underground. His children are college students based out of Hyderabad and his wife Malti took transfer from the Raipur central jail to Hyderabad jail in 2020,” he said.

Security officials claim it is unprecedented for Maoists to not make an announcement of their new DKSZC secretary, more than 15 months after the demise of Ramanna. “There were some contenders like Ganesh Uikey or Sujatha, who even handled the business as acting secretary, who are both senior to Reddy. He is also not a native of Bastar region, which is a problem that several local cadres have. These might be the reasons why they haven’t made his name public,” Sundarraj said.

Who Reddy is and how he rose through Maoist ranks is a story that spans through three decades in Chhattisgarh.

In the police dossier of DKSZC members, Reddy stands out from the rest, as the only professionally-clicked passport size photo in a list of sourced pictures and screen grabs.

Born in Karimnagar, Reddy moved to erstwhile Madhya Pradesh in 1990s, and finished his LLB from Raipur university. When the state was formed, Reddy was a practicing lawyer living in Bhilai town along with his wife K Shanti Priya, who later also came to be known as Malti, and two children. According to senior police officials, Shanti Priya and Reddy were lawyers practicing at the district court and were active among the circles of activists, journalists and other progressive groups. These friendships caused many uncomfortable questions for journalists and lawyers in the state after 2007.

Malti was arrested from Bhilai in January 2007, after she and a few accomplices had dropped weapons and Maoist literature at a roadside in Raipur. When an IAS was abducted by Maoists in 2012, the release of Malti was one of the demands put forth by the Maoists, but it was rejected.

Reddy, meanwhile, went from being an overground worker to an underground cadre. He was in-charge of the East Bastar division and then North Bastar — working simultaneously on ideological expansion — before becoming the spokesperson and Maoist contact person for journalists. The Maoists work through aliases and Reddy had several.

From the more widely known Vijay and Uday, he also held the monikers of Vikalp and Gudsa Usendi — names carried by the spokesperson and authorised message broadcasters of the Maoist group. While Vikalp is a pen name of the person who writes for the DKZC, Gudsa Usendi was a 17-year-old tribal who had died as a Maoist.

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