Wayanad: Wayanad District Police Chief G Poonguzhali refuted the allegations that a suspected Maoist gunned down in a forest abutting the inter-state border in a fake encounter. The Superintendent of Police told mediapersons that the group of armed Maoists fired at the Kerala police team. The IPS officer added that the police is yet to identify all members of the Left extremists gang.
The police identified the deceased as Velmurugan, hailing from Tamil Nadu's Theni district. The reported shootout occurred at Valaramkunnu, near Meenmutty on Tuesday.
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.
Meanwhile, the body of Velmurugan was handed over to his family members after conducting a 2-hour long autopsy. The body was received by his mother Kannammal and social activist Grow Vasu.
The SP earlier 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," 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.
Police said they found Velmurugan, wearing a uniform, dead and a 0.303 rifle with him.
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.
Ballistic and forensic experts have collected evidence from the scene.
In March last year, a Maoist leader C P Jaleel was shot dead at a resort near Vythiri in Wayanad.
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.
Police said security has been tightened at 11 check posts at the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border following the killing of the suspected ultra.