CPM, CPI continue to exchange fire over gunning down of Maoists

CPM, CPI continue to exchange fire over gunning down of Maoists
K Prakash Babu, CPI assistant secretary, speaks to Manorama News after visiting the spot where four gunned down.

Palakkad/Thiruvananthapuram: While the alliance partners CPM and CPI continued to adopt a confrontational posture on the recent police action against Maoists in Kerala, it has emerged that some of the ultras who were gunned down had informed the police that they were ready to surrender.

Ignoring the police deployment, a CPI team on Friday visited the place where Maoists were gunned down. "What we saw substantiates our doubts that it was indeed a fake encounter. One look and anyone can understand it was clear police brutality," said K Prakash Babu, assistant secretary, who led the CPI team.

However, state minister for SC/ST and backward classes welfare A K Balan countered Prakash Babu. "How can you know about encounter and firing just by visiting the spot? Where those who claimed that the Maoists were fired at a close range present during the incident? How do you know if it was close range or long range?" he asked.

On his part, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the CPM State Secretariat being held in Thiruvananthapuram that the cops fired in self-defence. "This is the info the government has. The Maoists were armed with deadly weapons like AK-47," he said.

"The police had pointed out that the slain Maoists belonged to the same organisation that had carried out several murders in other states and they cannot be taken lightly. We had announced a rehabilitation plan for surrendering Maoists. Instead of taking up that offer, if they continue to carry on with their subversive activities, they will be dealt with firmly," he said.

'Three ultras were keen on surrender'

Four of the Maoists, including Manivasakam and Aravind, who were killed in the encounter near Agali in Kerala's Palakkad district, were planning to surrender and had informed the police regarding the same through meditators, according to sources. Their only demand was that the cases against them should be dropped.

The Maoist group's state committee member Manivasakam was in a critical state due to complications arising out of diabetes. The other two who were ready to surrender were Sreemathi and Savithri.

Aravind and Sreemathi were living together and have a six-month old baby. The child is safe in Attappady, said the sources.

In fact, Sreemathi had visited the Kottathara government tribal hospital for delivery-related issues. Both Sreemathi and Savithri are yet to be traced.

According to a tribal team, including women, who spoke to the police regarding the surrender, Manivasakam had warned them about the chances of a revenge attack by the Maoists group.

The Maoists used to communicate through two other mediators. Manivasakam had been in Attappady since 2014. After he fell ill, his companions left him. In fact, Manivasakam needed a stick to even walk. Rema and Karthi, who were killed in the encounter, had joined him recently, they said.

Though police had claimed that Kaalidasan from Mulakombu Ooru and Danish from Mukkaliyil were caught in earlier operations, in reality both had surrendered, tribal chieftains said.

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