Today's Paper

'Naxalite' leader shot dead in encounter

Dharmapuri Nov. 24. At least one person, believed to be a naxalite leader, was killed and a police inspector sustained bullet injuries in an `encounter' near Uthangkarai, near here, this afternoon. The police rounded up 22 members of a naxalite group in an operation which stretched into the night.

Coming close on the heels of a violent upheaval in Andhra Pradesh, the police here have launched an intensive "combing operation" to round up the members of the naxal group, believed to be linked to the People's War, which is a part of the Revolutionary Youth League. The police said the encounter took place at Chinnakanakampatti, near Uthangkarai.

On a tip-off obtained by the Naxalites Special Wing Police, a police party, led by NSWP inspector Eganathan, went in search of the armed naxalite team, which was said to be hiding in a mango groove between Chinnakanakampatti and Nochupatti.

Even as efforts were on to round them up, there was an exchange of fire, resulting in Mr. Eganathan suffered an injury in his left leg. The police returned the fire, injuring the leader, Siva alias Parthiban.

He subsequently died at the Uthangkarai Government Hospital, the police said.

On hearing of the encounter, the Superintendent of Police, K. Periaiah, rushed to the spot with nearly 100 personnel to nab those hiding in the area.

In the combing operation, six naxalites — Mariappan of Royakottai, Raju of Dharmapuri, Marappan of Madurai, Prabhakar of Uthangkarai Colony, Suresh of Madurai and Madhayan of Dharmapuri — were rounded up in the first round, while the others were secured in the subsequent rounds.

The police have suspended the search at night and would resume it the morning, sources said.

The Salem Range, DIG, Tamilselvan, has also reached the area.

A team to provide immediate medical aid has been stationed.

The injured inspector and two other naxalites who sustained injuries have been admitted to the Uthangkarai Government Hospital.

`Outfit leader killed'

K.T. Sangameswaran reports from Chennai:

A senior police officer when contacted here said that Siva was the chief of the RYL. Dharmapuri and parts of the erstwhile North Arcot district (now Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts), he said, were "naxalite-infested" areas of the State.

These youth were constantly engaged in mobilising support for their cause and "weaning away unemployed youth". The group became active during drought and periods of social unrest.

During the 1980s, Dharmapuri and North Arcot districts witnessed one of the most violent upsurges in the naxalite movement.

Scores of activists were gunned down in police encounters.

Though there was a lull in operation between bouts of violence, kidnaps, encounters, but the region always remained a "fertile ground" for the naxalite movement.