Kalpetta: Opposition blames the trigger-happy counter-insurgency forces of the Kerala government for the latest gunning down of an alleged Maoist in a forest abutting the inter-state border. A Tamil youth killed in an alleged encounter between a special unit of the police and some Left extremists in Kerala's Wayanad district early on Tuesday has become the eighth Maoist to be killed ever since the Left Democratic Front government headed by Pinarayi Vijayan came to power in Kerala in 2016.
The police identified the deceased as Velmurugan, hailing from Tamil Nadu's Theni district. The reported shootout occurred at Valaramkunnu, near Meenmutty.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala has demanded a high-level inquiry into Velmurugan's killing. "This is the eighth Maoist to be killed during Pinarayi's rule. It is surprising that this is happening under a Communist Chief Minister," he said.
KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran also suspected that Velmurugan was intentionally killed.
"What is happening in the name of hunting down of Maoists is fake encounter. A comprehensive inquiry is needed into the Wayanad encounter," he said, adding, "there have been 10 fake encounters in Kozhikode and Wayanad districts ever since the Left Front came to power."
An elite command force of the Kerala Police named Kerala Thunderbolts is tasked with counter-insurgency operations.
Others to fall
Kuppu Devaraju and Ajitha were killed in a clash in the Karulai forest area in Malappuram on November 24, 2016, a year after the Pinarayi government came to power.
In 2019 alone, five Maoists were killed. Kabaneedalam leader CP Jaleel was killed in a shooting on March 6 in Vaithiri, while Manivasakam, Rema, Aravind and Karthi were killed on October 28 and 29 at Manchikkandi in Attappadi.
The CPI (Maoist) has thus lost eight prominent cadres in four clashes over a period of five years.
CP Rasheed, state secretary of the People's Human Rights Movement, has alleged that the state government tries to divert attention by killing Maoists in fake encounters whenever it finds itself on the defensive.
The shooting at Manchikkandi took place when the Walayar sexual abuse case was raging. The latest encounter has also happened when the government finds itself under fire and isolated due to the current political controversies, including the one caused by the gold smuggling case, he said.
Thunderbolt shot dead not only eight Maoists but also a photographer, Rasheed said. It shot dead a photographer named Benny in Attappady but put the blame on the Maoists. The fact-finding team that visited the place was aware of this, Rasheed alleged.
Ambush strategy pays off
Padinjarathara (Wayanad): The alleged Maoist who was killed in Meenmutty on Tuesday was likely ambushed by the state forces. It was first reported that the shooting took place just before sunrise. Human rights groups have alleged that Thunderbolt must have resorted to shooting without provocation in the wee hours.
Before ambushing a rival, the security forces hide in thick bushes or on hilltops and shoot down the enemy all of a sudden. The same tactic is used by insurgents too.
Human rights activists term the 2019 attack in Manchikkandi also as an ambush. However, the police version has been that during a routine patrol, a Maoist group opened fire on them and a Maoist was killed when they tried to defend themselves.
Alert at Idukki police stations
Nedumkandam: All the 30 police stations in Idukki district have been directed to be vigilant in view of the threat of Maoist attacks. Security has been beefed up at all the police stations. Security has also been strengthened at Idukki and Mullaperiyar dams. The police station assigned for the security of the Mullaperiyar Dam has also been instructed to stay on alert.
The alert was issued to police stations in the district in the wake of an intelligence report that Maoists would attack them. The Kerala-Tamil Nadu border check posts too are also on high alert.
The police have stepped up surveillance in the forest areas along the inter-state borders.
The Madhya Pradesh police and the Kerala police had arrested a Maoist leader who was staying in hiding in a cardamom plantation in Pampadumpara in Nedumkandam four years ago.
Last year, explosives were stolen from a private quarry in Udumbanchola. The police recovered only 50 per cent of the explosives in the case.