Top Maoist leader, Akkiraju Haragopal, alias Ramakrishna, who led the Maoists in peace talks with then Andhra Pradesh government in 2004, died of illness in Chhattisgarh, sources said on Thursday.
According to sources, the 58-year-old leader, popularly known as R.K., succumbed to chronic illness in south Bastar on Wednesday.
He was member of Central committee of the Communist Party of India-Maoist and incharge of Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of the banned outfit.
A key ideologue of the party, R.K., had several cases pending against him in different states and was carrying a reward of Rs 97 lakh.
Chhattisgarh Police confirmed the death of the top Maoist leader following wireless intercepts by the intelligence agencies. However, the CPI-Maoist is yet to release a statement confirming the report.
Hailing from Tumrukota village in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district, he had led then CPI-ML People's War in the peace talks with the Congress government headed by Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy in undivided Andhra Pradesh.
During the talks, the CPI-ML People's War merged with then Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) to form the CPI-Maoist. The talks had ended in failure as Maoists pulled out of the process accusing the government of breaking the ceasefire.
R.K. was injured in an exchange of fire with police in Malkangiri district of Odisha in October 2016. Thirty Maoists were killed in that encounter and initially he was reported missing.
Civil rights groups and Maoist sympathisers had alleged that he was in police custody. R.K.'s wife Sirisha had moved habeas corpus petition in Hyderabad High Court.
She had sought directions to the police to produce R.K. in the court. The Andhra Pradesh Police, however, told the court that R.K. was not in their custody. Later, the Maoists issued a statement that he was safe.