Thiruvananthapuram | Kerala police today stepped up search for suspected Maoists who had fled to the forests after exchanging fire with the police in Wayanad district. Stating that the police and speciallytrained commandos are fully prepared to face the threat posed by the ultras, state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the situation in Wayanad, after the incident which took place yesterday, was totally under control.
As the issue came up in the state assembly during question hour, Chennithala said due to security reasons he could not reveal all the measures taken by the government in the wake of the incident. The minister, however, said he would speak to his counterparts in neighbouring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as Wayanad shared borders with the forest areas of these states. Maoists and Thunderbolt commandos of the Kerala police, who were on a search operation, had exchanged several rounds of fire near a tribal colony at Vellamunda in Wayanad district.
After firing at the commandos the Maoists fled to deep forests. However, no one was injured in the firing. This was the first instance of direct confrontation between police and Maoists in Kerala. Specially trained forces were deployed in the hilly district about a year ago in the wake of intelligence report that Maoists had sneaked into Wayanad forests from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Wayanad had been a hotbed of Naxalite activities during the late 1960s and early 1970s and there had been instances of encounters with police.
Chennithala told reporters at the assembly media room that government viewed the incident very seriously and was ready to meet any challenge posed by Maoists. The firing took place when commandos from Thunderbolt wing were on a routine combing operation in the area, he said. Maoists fired at the commandos and they retaliated. No one was injured in the incident, he added. Maoist presence was felt in the KeralaKarnataka and Tamil Border, he said, adding, they were trying to make inroads among tribals.
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