Team of Thunderbolt commando force begins combing operations

A team of the Thunderbolt commando force of the State police began combing operations for suspected Maoists at the Vayad tribal colony in Naripetta grama panchayat in the district on Saturday.

The operations were being conducted with the assistance of the local police and forest officials following reports about the presence of Maoists at the Naripetta and Vilangad regions in the district bordering Wayanad and Kannur districts.

Official sources said a nine-member armed group, including women, reportedly visited the Adivasi colony and distributed pamphlets to the residents on Friday night. Two of them were suspected to be the absconding Keralites involved with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

The Maoists were attired in black military style uniform and a few of them also carried guns. They interacted in Hindi and Malayalam.

They spent about 45 minutes at the colony, collected vegetables and other provisions from the households and retreated back into the forests.

The tribals and local people informed the police about these uniformed strangers. They said the armed group warned them about their exploitation by the government. The group said they were willing to protect them.

Police personnel attached to the Kuttiyadi and Valayam stations made a quick search in the region. Subsequently, assistance of the specialised force was requested, a senior official said.

He told The Hindu that a suspected group belonging to the Left radical outfit had moved into the forests of Nilambur, Wayanad and Kozhikode from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.  

The Home Department had planned to conduct an operation with the help of Central Reserve Police Force personnel as the Thunderbolt commandos were not trained to search Maoists.

A week earlier, an excavator was set ablaze allegedly by Maoists at Chooranimala in Kavilumpara panchayat in the limits of the Thottipalam police station in the district.

The excavator of a quarry- cum- crusher unit was destroyed by them demanding protection of the Western Ghats.

The police had recovered posters and literature of CPI (Maoists) and copies of its new bulletin ‘Kattuthee’ (forest fire) from the spot. The pamphlets showed similarity to the ones distributed by members of the Western Ghats Special Zonal Committee of CPI (Maoist).

Activities of the banned CPI(Maoist) at the tri-junction of the Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu borders were reported as early as 2011.

The security apparatus of the governments of Kerala and Karnataka had been caught unawares after the CPI(Maoist) formed a new guerrilla zone in the Western Ghats.