‘Gate Puttur’ tense following the operation to flush out terrorists

Tension was palpable on Saturday at ‘Gate Puttur’ in the town of Puttur until the two al-Umma activists Bilal Malik and Panna Ismail were captured after an 11-hour operation. The residents could not reconcile themselves to the fact that they had been living with the wanted men for two years.

Right from 3 a.m, when the suspects attacked Special Branch (Chennai) Inspector Lakshmanan with knives, panic was all-pervasive in the four lanes that formed part of Gate Puttur. The policemen slowly removed the residents away from the vicinity and cordoned off the area by dawn.

Masjid Street, a stone’s throw away from the railway station and beyond School Street, Gate Street and Medhara Street, is inhabited by members of the Muslim community.

According to residents, Malik and Ismail came to Puttur in the guise of traders buying used and old clothes, took two houses on rent in the locality, one a month ago and the other, two years ago. The tiled house in which they were holed up was taken on a monthly rent of Rs.1,000 from Yasin Basha, a Central Excise Superintendent, who passed away recently due to illness. Women in the street told this correspondent that the duo was always tight-lipped. “They are Tamils and we are Telugus. What’s there for them to talk to us?”, snaps Hasina, an elderly woman who has seen one of them regularly collect water from the public tap.

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