The Kerala police’s anti-Maoist unit, Thunderbolt, has come under attack for what appears to be a fake encounter in the forests in Palakkad, in which four alleged Maoists were killed. Palakkad’s Member of Parliament V K Sreekandan who visited the area soon after the killings on October 28 and 29, said there was no sign of any encounter and the Maoists were seemingly shot from behind. The Thunderbolts shot down three Maoists—Rema, Aravind and Karthik—while they were having lunch inside the forests of Manjankandi near Attapady. According to reports, it was on the following day, while conducting the inquest, the police is believed to have killed Manivasagam, the secretary of the CPI (Maoist), Tamil Nadu state.
According to Murugan, Leader of the Adivasi Action Council at Attapadi, the supposed encounter took place just half a kilometre from a Manjankandi Adivasi hamlet and no one in the locality was aware of any tent being pitched by Maoists in the area. “We hear that these people, some of them unwell, had been negotiating with the police to surrender for a while now. They had come here thinking that they would be able to surrender to the Left government in Kerala but the police shot them down.”
The Thunderbolt explanation that the Maoists were camping in the area has been refuted by Sreekandan and others who say there was no sign of any camp in the vicinity of the encounter. The Congress leader, Sreekandan, also launched a furious attack on the Kerala DGP, Lokanath Behera, who he said was encouraging fake encounters in the state. It is possible that Behera, 58, two years from retirement is looking for an extension and is desperately trying to earn brownie points. Seven Maoists have been neutralised in the past three years under Behera, an encounter specialist formerly with the NIA and CBI.