In 1988, Ravula Srinivas paid Rs 100,000 for a black-market AKS series Kalashnikov rifle with a light-wood finish and a folding metal shoulder stock. On April 6 this year, the same rifle was pressed into service in an ambush that killed 75 members of the Central Reserve Paramilitary Force and one Head Constable of the Chhattisgarh police in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.
In the intervening years, Ravula has grown from a young student from Warangal into Ramana, Secretary of the South Bastar Regional Committee of the CPI (Maoist) and chief architect of the April 6 attack; unchanged by the years, the rifle has never left his side.
On April 14, The Hindu was offered access to Maoist leaders Ramana and Ganesh Ueike. in the Jagargunda forests in Dantewada. The visit offered a rare, though by no means comprehensive, insight into how the CPI (Maoist) sources, maintains and distributes weapons among its cadres.