Red fort crumbling? 'Invisible' Maoist leader Usendi surrenders

The elusive Usendi surrendered ostensibly after his concerns against extreme violence were over ruled by top Maoist leaders

GN Bureau | January 8, 2014


Only photo of Gudsa Usendi, alias GVK Prasad, available with the police.
Only photo of Gudsa Usendi, alias GVK Prasad, available with the police.

Maoists received another blow, with Maoist party forest special zone committee's official head, Gumudavelli Venkata Krishna Prasad alias Gudsa Usendi, surrendering himself before the authorities on Wednesday (January 8). However, the police are yet to officially announce the surrender. It is believed that on Thursday the police will produce Usendi before media.

Highly placed sources in the police department said that Usendi surrendered himself along with his wife Raji, before the Intelligence Bureau on Tuesday night. According to the sources, Usendi is presently under the custody of Hyderabad police.  It is worth mentioning here that there has been a reward of Rs.15 lakh on Venkata Krishna Prasad. Usendi has been the state committee president of Chattisgarh, till now.
 
Usendi originally belongs to Kadivendi village in Devaruppala mandal of Warangal district. Usendi has suddenly come into light with the catastrophic death of Maoists’ supreme leader Kishanji in an encounter, two years before.

Police sources said Venkat Krishna Prasad was trying to surrender since the attack in Chhattisgarh last May. He was against extreme violence and voiced his concern to the top leaders which was eventually over ruled. Sources said that Usendi was in touch with Warangal district based politician who eventually worked out the surrender policy with the police. Unconfirmed reports said that Usendi surrendered before police in Chhattisgarh last week.
The news of his surrender came to light on Wednesday morning. Till now Maoists have not reacted to the news of the surrender.

WHO IS GUDSA USENDI?

Gudsa Usendi isn’t a new name for journalists covering Maoist activities in the two neighbouring states: he is in constant touch with the media, sending audio clips, press notes, updating them about attacks.
(For more on Usendi, read 'Who is Gudsa Usendi, the 'invisible' Maoist?")

Only, no journalist has ever met Usendi. He is what can be called a “phantom spokesperson” for the Maoists.

So, who is this man, Gudsa Usendi? Maoist sympathisers and former ultras say Gudsa Usendi is just a name: the person using that name changes from time to time. Usendi, those in the know of Maoist operations in the region say, is the title used by the spokesperson for Dandakaranya special zonal committee.
To know more about the myth/legend behind Usendi, one has to travel back in time to June 25, 2000. According to reports, it was raining heavily at Potenar village in Abujhmarh, Chhattisgarh, that night when police surrounded a hut while hunting for Maoists. Five ultras were killed, of whom one was identified as Gudsa Usendi, 17. According to former Maoists, Gudsa, who came from the Maria tribe in Abujhmarh, had dropped his given name and took on the moniker ‘Ramesh’ after joining the Maoist ranks. As if to pay back the compliment, a year after his death the Maoist spokesperson of Dandakaranya took on Usendi’s name to keep alive his memory.

The practice has continued ever since.

Police reports and sources within Maoist ranks claim Usendi functions in a professional manner: he is equipped with cell phones, laptops and a team of PR persons among Maoists. A message from Gudsa Usendi could appear as a note under your door, a letter postmarked at a small town on Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh border, an email from an IP address that traces back to a neighbouring state, or even a micro-SD card stuck on a sheet of paper.

For the last two years every Maoist division (equivalent to a zilla in panchayati system) has access to laptop, memory cards, a portable inkjet printer and cellphone. The files – press notes are usually in PDF format – are emailed from the top of a tall tree on a mountaintop where a GPRS-enabled phone can log on to a stray network, it is learnt.

And this is where Gudsa Usendi comes into the picture – never seen, but always read and heard, say former Maoists.
 

 

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