With suspected Maoist movement, Karnataka police step up combing operations in Udupi, Chikkamagaluru districts

February 08, 2024 09:34 pm | Updated 09:34 pm IST - MANGALURU

A roadside bus stand at Menasinahadya village in Chikkamagaluru district. The village was once well known for Maoist movement.

A roadside bus stand at Menasinahadya village in Chikkamagaluru district. The village was once well known for Maoist movement. | Photo Credit: RAVIPRASAD KAMILA

The Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) sleuths and police from Udupi and Chikkamagaluru districts have stepped up combing operations following reports on the movement of suspected Maoists in parts of Udupi district.

According to police sources, a group of five persons were sighted at some houses in Kollur, Mudur, and Belkal villages in Udupi district about three times in the last one month, including in the early hours of February 5. It was on February 5, 2005 that suspected Maoist Saketh Rajan was killed in an encounter with the police in Menasinahadya near Kalasa in Chikkamagaluru district. The Maoists have been commemorating this day as “Red Salute” day.

The villagers of Kollur, Mudur, and Belkal have seen the members of the group in the wee hours sporting ‘monkey’ caps. The members were said to be speaking in Kannada. The police have so far not found a clear identity of these persons.

“We are yet to decipher whether this is a prank played by Maoists to prevent people from moving in those areas or whether the villagers have mistaken night trekkers as Maoists,” a police official, involved in the combing operations, told The Hindu.

“Some of the local media have reported that there is a suspected sighting of Maoists. We are verifying it. All preventive actions are undertaken along with the Anti-Naxal Force,” said Udupi Superintendent of Police K. Arun, in a statement on Wednesday.

Police sources said vigilance in the areas close to tri-junction forests of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala have been heightened since the twin encounters between suspected Maoist groups and the Kerala police Thunderbolts special forces team. The first was in Thalappuzha in Wayanad district of Kerala on November 8, 2023, followed by one in Karikkottakary of Kannur district in Kerala, on November 13.

The Kerala police arrested two persons Chandru and Unnimaya, both allegedly members of Banasura Dalam of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), and seized an AK-47 assault rifle and two country-made shotguns. Kavita, an alleged suspected Maoist, was injured in the police encounter and she died a few days later.

As the areas around Kollur, Mudur, and Belkal in Udupi district have been those where Maoists visited earlier, and Menasinahadya near Kalasa in Chikkamagaluru district being the place Saket Rajan operated, the police intensified search operation in these areas.

The police are keeping close vigil on people getting off and getting into trains and buses in these areas. Checking is also being done at the check-posts on forest routes, the police official said.

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