A suspected gang of Maoists attacked the office of a stone quarrying unit, situated near a tribal settlement close to forest region of Kannur district in the wee hours of Friday.
The quarry has been facing protest from tribal people, indicating that Maoists are intervening in such issues sidelined by mainstream political parties in Kerala.
According to police, a five-member armed gang damaged the furniture and took away CCTV cameras before torching the office of New Bharat Stone Crusher at Nedumpoyil under Peravoor police limits.
They threatened the security staff at gunpoint and posted pro-Maoist notices in the premises of the office. The posters, issued on behalf of the western ghat zone of the CPI (Maoist), urged the tribals and farmers to gain control over soil, water and forest. The group, in military fatigue, raised slogans also.
Later, the gang went to the nearby tribal colony. A woman named Radha told the media that they woke a family up to inform them that “we have attacked the quarry unit which has been causing trouble for you.’’
The colony had earlier also reported the presence of suspected Maoists activists more than once. Some of the colony inhabitants spoke in a manner that they were familiar with the members of the gang.
This is the second suspected attack of Maoists at a stone quarrying unit in the western ghat region of North Kerala. In 2013, a quarry unit in Kozhikode district was attacked and an earth mover located in the unit was torched.
Recently, Maoist pamphlet Kattuthee (forest fire) had warning against illegal quarrying units operating in the Western Ghats. Indicting the tourism industry for displacing tribals, it called for armed struggle to regain the control over soil, water and forest.
Stone quarrying units and resorts have come up in large numbers in several sensitive zones in the Kerala belt of the Western ghat. A resort, which had allegedly erected on an alienated tribal land, had been attacked in Wayanad last month. Mainstream political parties have been silent on such stone units and resorts, which have come up floating norms.
Friday’s incident came close on the heels of Kerala home minister Ramesh Channithala’s two-day visit to tribals belts in Wayanad as part of steps to instill confidence among tribals about government machinery. Chennithala had spent his new year in Wayanad dining with tribals.
Chennithala said, “the attack in Kannur was a handiwork of those supporting Maoists.’’