Police brace for a renewed Maoist activity

The State police view the attack on a shuttered forest outpost in Wayanad last week as the harbinger of a season of resurgent armed Maoist activity in forested regions of north Kerala.

They have identified four persons, including two women, “responsible” for the firebombing of the vacant station. No one has been arrested so far.

The provocateurs were part of a 20-member group of armed irregulars currently bivouacking in the area. They claimed allegiance to the so-called Kabani Dalam of the Western Ghats special zonal committee of the CPI(Maoist). Following the arrest of its leader Roopesh in May, the group has engaged police commandos at least three times in Wayanad. The last such fire-fight was on December 7 in the vicinity of the outpost.

Investigators said their inventory of arms possibly included at least one AK-47 assault rifle and a few country-made muzzle loaders. They had based their deductions on the few expended cartridges and projectiles collected from the spot.

The group could also have stockpiled workshop-grade anti-personnel weapons such as crude landmines or remotely triggered pipe bombs. Police commandos routinely used landmine detectors during armed patrols in the area and most operations were at night.

The police believe the political reason for the largely symbolic vandalising of the forest station was to discourage eco-tourism, the economic lifeline for the largely forested and least populated district in Kerala.

Seeking to notify armed presence

The Maoists wanted to notify their armed presence in the area to keep the usual arms of the State, including forest, police and excise officials, at bay.

They have also threatened to target government officials, resort owners and granite miners who operated against their will in the region. Money-lenders were also high on their list of enemies.

A senior official said the situation was grave. Forest patrols have nearly come to a halt. Law enforcers were loath to foray into the “Maoist dominated” forests. The police suspect that Maoists were increasingly resorting to theatrical direct action to degrade its response.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 5:16:32 PM |

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