Porattam State council chairman M.N. Ravunni has said the arrest of C.K. Gopalan, former Wayand district secretary of Karshaka Samara Sangham, for keeping in his possession posters printed in connection with the February 18 Verghese death anniversary is ‘illegal and an abuse of power.’

Mr. Ravunni pointed out that Porattam and other organisations used to observe the anniversary of the police murder of former Naxalite leader Verghese in the Thirunelli forest every year.

This year also Porattam had received permission from the authorities to hold the anniversary at Mananthawadi for which posters and notices had been printed. Porattam also observed the death anniversary of the Adivasi, Jogi, who was killed in the police action at Muthanga in Wayanad.

“It is shocking to learn that the police arrested Mr. Gopalan for possessing ‘pro-Verghese posters’ printed for a meeting and rally for which the authorities’ permission had been taken,” he said. He said that the former Inspector General Lakshmana was now serving life term for ordering to shoot to death Mr. Verghese more than four decades ago.

Former CRPF constable Ramachandran Nair had publicly stated that he had shot Mr. Verghese to death at point blank during an anti-Naxalite operation at the order of senior police officers, including Mr. Lakshmana.

Mr. Ravunni, also called Mundur Ravunni, said Mr. Gopalan, who was a former State council member of Porattam, had not been active in the activities of Porattam as he was ill for a long time. Earlier, he had been active in people’s movements and the Wayanad police were well aware of it.

Mr. Ravunni, 72, a former leader of the CPI(ML), who had served life imprisonment for the murder of a landlord in Palakkad district during a Naxalite action in the early 1970s, said Porattam was not a Maoist organisation. It was an umbrella organisation of several people’s movements and that its activities were open and public. It was not affiliated to any all-India organisation.

Mr. Ravunni alleged the so-called Maoist hunt in the Western Ghats was a tactic of the political establishment to divert people’s attention from major scandals of corruption, bribery and rape.

He said a section of the police and intelligence would from time to time come up with scaring stories of the presence of Maoists or terrorists in the Western Ghats.