Photographs: SnapsIndia Vicky Nanjappa
The elusive leader, who had worked closely with Naxals in Chhattisgarh for nearly three decades, was the one who introduced uniforms for cadre, and also stressed on the need to embrace technology with changing times to sharpen the movement.
The surrender of top Naxal leader Gudsa Usendi, mastermind of many lethal strikes including the attack on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh last year, is certainly a good news for the NIA, reports Vicky Nanjappa.
The National Investigation Agency has achieved a major breakthrough as key leader of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, Gumudavelli Venkatakrishna Prasad alias Gudsa Usendi, surrendered before Andhra Pradesh police on Wednesday.
Clearly under pressure of being hunted down by the security forces of various states especially Chhattisgarh, Usendi was forced to surrender along with his wife Sathoshi Markam.
Usendi had masterminded several lethal attacks including the May 2013 Jiram Ghati massacre targeting a Congress convoy in which 27 people lost their lives including top party leaders from Chhattisgarh like Mahendra Karma, Nand Kumar Patel and Vidya Charan Shukla.
The NIA now hopes to crack the case with Usendi’s capitulation.
The man who introduced uniforms for Naxal cadre
Usendi’s surrender is certainly a big blow to the Naxal movement. The 45-year-old leader, who hails from Warangal in Andhra Pradesh, has worked with the Naxals in Chhattisgarh for nearly 30 years, and it wouldn’t be wrong to consider him as one of the founding fathers of the movement.
Usendi’s planning and strategy and also his very strongly worded messages sent down a shiver to many. Known as the ‘Phantom of Dantewada’ he was quick to adapt to technology and even has a Facebook page in his name.
He is the man who introduced the uniform for the Naxals as he felt that they should look like a serious war force, intelligence inputs note. Back in 2007, he had given an order at Raipur to stitch 207 shirts and trousers. For this purpose he adopted the alias Choudhar and went up to the market personally and picked up nearly 700 metres of olive green cloth. He even personally interacted with a tailor and told him to stitch the uniforms which were finally distributed among the cadre.
'He always a believed an attack must be publicised'
Usendi is clearly a multi-faceted character. A graduate from Warangal, he joined the Peoples’ War Group as a youngster. He always believed in innovating and felt that the movement should keep pace with time.
Sending out emails from proxy servers or distributing CDs among people and politicians speaking about the Naxal agenda were all his contributions.
Usendi always believed that each time an attack was carried out it needed to be publicised. There was no point in carrying out an attack and not claiming responsibility for the same, he believed. He was the one who prepared press releases and ensured that they were distributed after every attack.
Usendi was part of every bit of the planning and execution of Naxal attack. However, he was always known as the invisible man. Security agencies struggled to put a face on the man for a very long time.
'Usendi surrendered in AP as it gives a better package than Chhattisgarh'
He was never traceable despite using the mobile phone heavily. This is because he kept operating in border areas of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. His logic always was to make a call from a border area in Chhattisgarh and he knew very well that at that particular point the reception that the phone would catch would be from a tower in Andhra Pradesh.
Usendi was the communication and technology expert, and was forever bubbling with ideas and had at least 200 cadre reporting to him, intelligence inputs point out.
His absence will be missed by the Naxals and the NIA hopes to make greater breakthroughs through his interrogation. Usendi decided to surrender since he realised that the game was up and the Chhattisgarh forces would eventually hunt him down. He chose to surrender in Andhra Pradesh, his home state, as the surrender package offered by AP is better compared to the rest of the states.