'Karnataka fled Maoists have field day in Kerala'

'Karnataka fled Maoists have field day in Kerala'

Maoists were said to have been spotted over 40 times in the forest periphery of Kannur, Wayanad and Malappuram districts .

Ever since the CPI Maoists sighted their presence in the Northern Kerala more than a year ago, it seems they have a field day in the state unlike in Karnataka, from where they were forced to flee. Sources in Kerala police say that in a year, Maoists were spotted over 40 times in the forest periphery of Kannur, Wayanad and Malappuram districts.

Visiting tribal hamlets and preaching Maoist leanings, collecting rice and groceries, distributing phamplets, setting ablaze an earth mover of a quarry owner are the Maoist activities reported in this period. To nip the menace in the bud itself, the state has set up a special commando force, ‘Thunderbolt’ and have been carrying on combing operations in the Maoist suspected areas, but in vain.

The latest advance from the ultra force took place on April 24 midnight at Mananthavadi in Wayanad district where the Maoists threatened a traffic police officer at gunpoint at his house. The five member team warned the police officer, Pramod of dire consequences if he tipped off police. 

Though the ‘Thunderbolt’ and police take swift action in such instances, it loses the vigour midway due to the lethargy at government level, disclosed a senior police officer to Deccan Herald. He attributed the reason that state government cannot abruptly switch into a ruthless mode in pursuing Maoists as the civil society in Kerala would not accept that. “But at the same time, to wait for some untoward incidents to happen will be a stupidity,” he added. The combing team haven’t come across the Maoists ever since the team was formed though people have reportedly come across Maoists several times.

In Kerala, Maoist presence has been identified in regions that come under 31 police stations limits of Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakad and Thrissur districts. The first time Maoists were sighted at Kanjirakolli in Kannur near Karnataka border was on February 2013. Since then, the prowling route of Maoists in the dense forest is through Kannur—Wayanad—Nilambur regions. The Kerala police have issued lookout notice for 11 Maoists recently. Though ultras say that stepping into Kerala is a part of their agenda of having their grip on Western Ghat area, police are of the opinion that it was the no-holds-barred effort of Karnataka Anti-Naxal Force that made the armed group to retreat to Kerala.

Target Western Ghat

The ultras are functioning under the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army wing that comes under the Western Ghats Special Zonal Committee (WGSZC) of CPI Maoists. According to an article written by the absconding Kerala Maoist leader Rupesh in ‘Mathrubhumi’ weekly last year, WGSZC was formed targeting the fertile soil of the regions of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu adjacent to the Western Ghats. He wrote that the extent of exploitation faced by scores of tribals, SC people, landless poor, farmers in these areas as against the blooming economic prospects of nearby cities such as Erode, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Kochi, Kozhikode and Mangalore provide the ground for Maoist ideology to take roots. The ultras move is said to be part of an ambitious plan to create a red corridor from Jharkhand to Wayanad.

6 ultras from Malnad

The Kerala police believe that 11 people, including four women are active in the Maoist gang with a considerable number of members currently put in sleeping mode. Of this, six are from the Malnad region of Karnataka, viz., Vikram Gowda, Latha, Kanya alias Kanyakumari, Sundari alias Geetha, Mahesh alias Jayanna and A S Suresh. They are involved in many criminal cases in Karnataka including murder and Vikram Gowda has led the movement in Malnad.

 Rupesh, Sinoj are from Kerala and others belong to Tamil Nadu. Reports also indicate that ultras from northern states have also joined the group though police do not have much information. The intelligence agency says that in 2011, half a dozen of Malayalee youth have undergone training in Jharkhand. Inspite of these identified ones, intelligence wing suspects that several others such as Rupesh’s wife, Shyna who was an employee in Kerala High Court have been providing support under cover.

Though the respective anti-naxal wings of three states—Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu—are co-operating with each other in pursuing Maoists, it has been learnt that there is dissatisfaction with the cold attitude on the part of Kerala. Both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are for an iron hand in dealing with Maoists with both states pointing the success of Andhra Pradesh’s special force, ‘Greyhounds’ in eliminating ultras. But Kerala is too cautious to take such a policy chiefly fearing public backlash. When Kerala-Karnataka joint forces were undertaking combing operations using helicopter at Mankundi near Cherupuzha on Kerala-Karnataka border on February 1, 2013, it was later revealed that at the same time ultras were having political ‘discussions’ with people just 15 kms away for hours.