Wayanad: A Maoist was killed in an alleged encounter between the police and some Left extremists in Kerala's Wayanad district early on Tuesday.
The police identified the deceased as Velmurugan, 33, hailing from Tamil Nadu's Theni district.
According to the police, Velmurugan had been giving combat training to those joined the ultras and was active in recruiting tribals to the Maoist fold.
There are a number of cases against him in various police stations in Wayanad and Kozhikode district, they said.
The firing between the Thunderbolt, an elite commando force of state police specialised in combating extremists, and the suspected ultras took place in the nearby Banasura forest area under Padinjarethara police station limits.
Wayanad SPG Poonguzhali told the media that the exchange of fire between the commandos and the ultras lasted from 9.15am till around 10am.
"After that the police team found one body during the inspection. Police cordoned off the area and the inquest process was completed in the presence of executive magistrate and sub-collector. The body was shifted to Kozhikode medical college," she said.
Poonguzhali said the Thunderbolt team regularly conducts combing operations in the region and saw the gang comprising five to six persons today.
"They saw the Maoists who fired first.Then the police personnel divided into two teams and returned fire. The gang ran into the forest and there was a chance that they may come back and fire again and because of that the media was not allowed into the area," she said.
The police said they found Velmurugan, wearing a uniform, dead and a 0.303 rifle with him.
Wayanad forests border with Karnataka. The visuals on the TV channels show a gun lying on the encounter spot.
Ballistic and forensic experts have collected evidence from the scene.
Police said security has been tightened at 11 check posts at the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border following the killing of the suspected ultra.
The northern district with a wide forest area has reported the presence of Maoists for many years. The district is said to be a part of the Kabani Dalam of the CPI (Maoist).
Maoist leader C P Jaleel was shot dead last year in an alleged encounter with police on the premises of a resort at Vythiri. A magisterial inquiry into the killing of Jaleel had recently given clean chit to the police.
Jaleel's brother C P Rasheed has slammed the magisterial report alleging that it was in tune with the police claims and prepared without checking facts.
Congress demands probe
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress has condemned the incident and demanded an independent probe.
Hitting out at the LDF government, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala said: "This is the eight Maoist killed since the Left government came to power.It's surprising that the killing is happening under the communist rule."
"There are allegations that these are illegal encounters. An independent probe should be conducted into the incident," Chennithala said in a statement.
Four Maoists were killed in an exchange of fire during a two-day police combing operation in Palakkad district that started on October 28 this year. Police had identified the four Maoists who were gunned down as Karthi, Rema, Aravind and Manivasagan.
Kuppuswamy Devaraj, 65, and Ajitha, 45, were killed in an alleged encounter with police in Nilambur forests on November 24, 2016.