MALAPPURAM: Two Maoists identified as Kuppu Devaraj and Ajitha were reportedly killed and a few others injured in an encounter with the police in Padukka forest area in Edakkara near Nilambur on Thursday. Devaraj was a central committee member of Communist Party of India (Maoist), a top post in the party. According to police, the heavy exchange of fire took place deep in the forest 4 km from the Padukka forest station of Karulayi forest range which falls under the Nilambur South Division at around 12 pm on Thursday.
This is the first incident in the state wherein Maoists were killed by the police. The police refused to divulge details of the ongoing operation inside the forest. The bodies of the deceased would be retrieved on Friday after the inquest and send to Kozhikode Medical College for autopsy, said district police chief, Mr Debesh Kumar Behera. A 60-member team of cops including the Thunder Bolt commandos led by assistant commandant L. Solomon had set out to the forest based on a tip-off on sighting of Maoists in the area early on Thursday.
According to the police, the Maoists allegedly fired at the police team during the search operation which led to a heavy exchange of fire. Another contingent of 150 policemen were also sent to the forest to strengthen the operation. Inspector general of police, Thrissur Range, A.R. Ajith Kumar camped in the area to supervise the operation. More details of the operation and casualties would be revealed on Friday, the police said.
The police troop had conducted a massive search operation a couple of weeks ago in the forest after intelligence inputs on a possible grouping of Maoists led by Kuppu Deveraj, but could not find anyone. The presence of Maoists and firing with the police in Nilambur forest had been reported twice in recent months. According to reports, Deveraj was masquerading as Kuppu Swami, Rayanna, Balaji, Yogesh in the forests of several states carrying a reward of Rs 7 lakh and Rs 10 lakh announced by Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh governments respectively.