‘The group members spoke in Tulu and Konkani’

State police suspect that the alleged Maoist group that struck a house in Kuthlur village in Belthangady on Saturday was commanded by Vikrama Gowda, one of the suspected Maoists believed to be active in Karnataka-Kerala areas of the Western Ghats.

Information gathered by the police and the reports that he was sighted recently in Kerala have given credence to this belief, highly-placed sources told The Hindu.

The splinter group of the alleged Maoists, set ablaze the car of a former gram panchayat member in Kuthlur village, on the fringes of Kudremukh National Park in the early hours of Saturday. The source pointed out that the group members conversed in Tulu and Konkani. Mr. Gowda and Sundari, another suspected Maoist, hail from Belthangady taluk and are well-versed in both the languages. Kuthlur and Naravi became the hub of ‘Maoist’ activities a few years ago when the movement allegedly started taking roots in Karnataka.

Police said it was not strange that the Maoists who carried out the attack on Saturday were carrying country-made firearms. Police also believe that the group of 15 that is believed to be involved in the latest ‘Maoist’ strike was indicative of the fact that their strength had not gone up in the recent past. “They have been enjoying the local support, getting food items.” Gowda and Sundari are said to have been sighted in the area in the last two years. The group was seen last in Kodagu district, the source said.

According to the source, another ‘Maoist’ group led by Angadi Suresh is also active in the area. “The merger of the two groups cannot be ruled out,” the source claimed. The third group, led by Mundagi Lata, had not been sighted anywhere in the last few years, the source added.

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