Maoist leader Vikram Gowda, wanted in various cases since the past 20 years, was among a handful of those who escaped from the Nilambur forests after they opened fire at a police patrol, police said on Saturday. Speaking to reporters here, Malappuram Superintendent of Police Debesh Kumar Behara said the encounter was ‘unexpected’ as the Maoists were sighted during normal patrolling.
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“Our patrolling team was fired upon first and we fired back, killing two Maoists,” he said, as human rights activists raised doubts on whether it was a ‘fake encounter’. “Vikram Gowda was among the Maoists present in the area when they opened fire at the police party. The operation commander recognised Gowda,” he said.
Police sources said the spot where the attack took place was in 500 acre forest in Western Ghats and at least 11 to 12 Maoists were in the area, where they had set up a hideout. The sources, who did not wish to be named, said they had received specific intelligence inputs that the Maoists would come to the tri junction. This was the first time a patrol team went to the area deep in the forests when they were attacked, following which they retaliated, police said.
Those killed in the November 24 ‘encounter’ had been identified as 65-year-old Kuppuswamy Devaraj, a central committee member of the outlawed outfit, from Krishnagiri in Andhra Pradesh and Ajitha (45) from Tamil Nadu. Relatives of the deceased have refused to claim the bodies, kept at Kozhikode medical college hospital mortuary.
Meanwhile, around 50 persons, reportedly Human Rights activists, protested in front of medical college hospital were the post-mortem was conducted, demanding that it be done in the presence of a magistrate. They were arrested and removed by police.
KPCC President V M Sudheeran wanted a judicial probe into the incident, while Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said though he does not believe it was a ‘fake’ encounter, there
should be a probe as per Supreme Court guidelines. Former Naxalite and human rights activist, ‘Gro’ Vasu said he would move the High court and demanded a fair probe, saying the ‘encounter’ was mysterious.
Meanwhile,the Kerala State Human Rights Commission on Saturday directed the DGP to enquire into a complaint that the two Maoists were not killed in the encounter with police and to file a report within two weeks. The direction in this regard was issued by commission member K Mohankumar following media reports that the Maoists did not possess any arms when they were killed.
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