Gunbattle again in Agali, 4 Maoists killed in 2 days

Representational image.

Palakkad: Police claimed that a Maoist, was killed in an encounter in Agaly in Kerala's Palakkad district on Monday.

The body of Manivasakam was recovered from the forest on Tuesday. With this, the number of Maoists killed in two days by Thunderbolts, the Kerala Police's specialised anti-terror commando force, rose to four.

The police had gunned down Karthi, Arvind and Rama on Monday.

Manivasakam has been operating in Attappadi for the past one year, said police sources. When several officials reached the forest to conduct inquest on the three killed Monday, Manivasakam along with three others started firing, according to the police.

In the retaliatory fire, Manivasakam was shot down and his other two accociates escaped into the forest.

"Thunderbolts retaliated following an attack from the Maoists. The security personnel are scheduled to scour the region further to flush out insurgents from the jungle around," police said.

None of the members of the Thunderbolt was injured in the present combing operations, taken up based on a tip-off about presence of Maoists in the area, the police official added.

Thunderbolts is an elite commando force of the Kerala Police under the India Reserve Battalion.

But Congress MP from Palakkad V K Sreekandan raised suspicion about the shoot-out. He asked the chief minister to explain the timing of the incident and what provoked the encounter.

"This is to divert people's attention from the death of siblings in Walayar. The chief minister should explain the reason for the combing operations," he said.

The brother of one of the ultras told reporters in Angadi in the district that he came to know about the death of his sibling in police action in Kerala.

He urged the police to make arrangements for bringing the body of his brother so that the family could conduct the last rites.

The encounter killings echoed in the Kerala Assembly where the Opposition Congress on Tuesday alleged the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) has made it a policy to eliminate the insurgents instead of bringing them to justice.

Making a mention of the deaths during a debate, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that during the previous Congress-rule, they had captured two wanted Maoists - Rupesh and Shina - instead of killing them in "fake encounters".

"When a Left government is ruling, such fake encounters are taking place. While we were in power, we captured them instead of killing them," Chennithala said adding since the Pinarayi Vijayan government came to power in 2016, a number of naxals have been killed.

Later speaking to reporters outside the assembly, he said Congress was opposed to the ideologies of Maoists.

"But we cannot agree to the fake encounters to kill them," he added.

CPI, a partner in the ruling LDF, declined to react when asked about the Congress' charge of fake encounters.

State secretary Kanam Rajendran said it was early to confirm whether it was a gunfight or a fake encounter.

Seven encounter killings since 2016

Manivasakam was the seventh encounter victim in Kerala after Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front came to power.

In 2016, Thunderbolts gunned down Kuppu Devarajan and Ajitha inside the Nilambur forest in Malappuram district. In March 2019, the commando force killed C P Jaleel at a resort in Vythiri in Wayanad district. Though the government ordered magisterial and crime branch investigations into the encounters, the reports have not been released yet.

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