Hyderabad, July 4 (IANS) Former Maoist leader Ganti Prasada Rao alias Prasadam, who was released in 2011 in exchange for the kidnapped collector of Odisha's Malkangiri, was critically injured in an assassination attempt in Andhra Pradesh's Nellore town Thursday, police said.
Prasadam, a poet and convenor of the Martyr's Committee of Friends and Relatives (a group representing kin of Maoists killed in shoot-outs with police), was attacked by three unidentified people near government-run hospital in Nellore.
The assailants fired at him and also attacked him with a knife.
Prasadam was shifted to hospital, where his condition is stated to be critical.
The assailants escaped after the attack. Police said they have formed several teams to arrest them.
Prasadam, who is popularly known as Ganti Prasadam, was attacked after he attended a meeting of Martyrs' Committee in Nellore, about 500 km here.
Maoist sympathizer and Revolutionary Writers' Association (Virasam) leader Varvara Rao has blamed police for the attack on Ganti Prasadam.
Ganti Prasadam along with some other Maoists was released from jail in Odisha in 2011 when Maoists had kidnapped Malkangiri district collector R.V. Krishna.
The collector was released after nine-day captivity when the Odisha government met Maoists' demands including release of Ganti Prasadam, Padma, wife of top Maoist leader Ramakrishna and another Maoist Sriramulu Srinivas.
A native of Bobbili in Vizianagaram district, Ganti Prasadam was arrested by Odisha Police from Visakhapatnam in 2010 a few days after Padma and three others were caught at Similiguda in Koraput district.
Padma was allegedly on her way to meet her husband in Narayanpatna forests. Prasadam was said to have facilitated the visit.
He had been lodged in Koraput jail till Jan 5, 2011 before Andhra Pradesh Police took him to Ongole in connection with the 1997 railway track explosion at Julmaly in Guntur district.
He was brought back to Odisha in February 2011 after Maoists demanded his release. The Odisha High Court had granted him bail.
He was also an accused in various cases including the attack on then Superintendent of Police of Prakasam district, Mahesh Chandra Ladha in 2005.
Prasadam's brother Ramesh, an active member of Communist Party of India-Maoist, was killed in a shoot-out with police.