The unexpected resurfacing of a group of armed people, suspected to be members of an outlawed Maoist outfit, at an Adivasi colony near Nilambur on Thursday evening has surprised the police and forest officials.

Although no formal manhunt has been launched, the Police and the Forest departments have tightened their vigil.

The police had stopped their formal search for some extremists who surfaced in the district sometime back. “We have had enough. Now what we are doing is secret moves with the help of forest officials,” said a police officer, pleading anonymity.

Now, a six-member gang wearing olive-green uniform and carrying guns visited the Chembra Adivasi colony at Kurumbilangode in Pothukal grama panchayat at 6.30 p.m. on Thursday. The gang, which included a woman, led a brief class to the Adivasis and distributed pamphlets amongst them. Criticising the United States (U.S.) and Indian policies towards the U.S., the gang reportedly exhorted the Adivasis for an armed struggle.

The gang, which spoke in Malayalam, left the colony around 7 p.m. Some members of the Adivasis informed the local forest officials of the visit of the gang around 8 p.m. The forest officials and the police visited the colony at night.

Nothing much to do then

“We had nothing much to do at that time. They alerted us about an hour after the gang had left the colony,” said Georgi P. Mathachan, Divisional Forest Officer (Nilambur North). The forest officials could get only two copies of the pamphlets distributed by the gang.

The gang had food from the Adivasi colony and carried rice and other groceries from there. It quietly disappeared into the forests of the Nilambur range.

Mr. Mathachan said that frequent searches were being conducted in the forests here despite shortage of staff. “Half of our staff has now gone for training. We are managing with the available few,” he said.

Senior police officers from the district also visited the colony. However, unlike the past, the police kept away from disclosing any information about their search plans.

A platoon of the Thunderbolts commandos of the State police had searched the forests a few weeks ago in the wake of the sighting of some men and women suspected to be Maoists. The much-hyped commando search, however, yielded nothing.

The Thunderbolts commandos were called in as the civil police officers engaged in the search had little experience in searching forests. The Thunderbolts had got training in all kinds of terrains, including jungles.

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