Kerala police shot dead one suspected Maoist member in an encounter between the two groups earlier today at Padinjarathara forest in Wayanad, said official reports. The police claimed that a small group of Maoists attacked the Thunderbolt commandos who were patrolling the area early morning. After a short exchange of gunfire, the surviving five members escaped into the forest. and the officials are on the lookout. According to reports, no police officer has been injured.
According to the police, the dead suspected Maoist seems to be around 35-years-old and does not seem to be a Malayali. They have recovered a bolt-action rifle and Maoist literature in the vicinity and have started FIR process. Considering the situation, the police started a lockdown and they have asked nearby residents to stay within the safety of their homes. The authorities have also restricted media from approaching the scene. The Thunderbolt team initiated the patrolling based on intelligence reports claiming Maoist encampment in the area.
Following the latest shootout, KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran condemned the act and called it a fake encounter. “A detailed probe must be conducted into the encounter. A lot of fake encounters have taken place since the LDF government came into power. Maoists are not to be dealt with using guns and lathis,” he added.
Higher authorities have rushed to the spot to start an inquest process into the shooting. The official police maintain that the Maoists shot first and they returned fire to protect themselves. However, the claims have been called into question. There have been two encounters in the past few years. The CP Jaleel case has caused quite a stir as the post mortem and ballistics report indicated that the encounter might have been faked. However, a magistrate report upheld the police narrative. Another incident took place in Palakkad, when three Maoists, including one woman, had been shot dead. Certain reports claim that they were shot from behind and that they were trying to surrender. CPI fact-finding committee had criticised the police for not having given the Maoists a chance to surrender.