KANNUR: Thunderbolt, Kerala’s special commando force, continued combing operations on Thursday in deep forests of border with Karnataka state for Maoist ultras, who had plans for a major strike against police stations in Wayanad, according to central intelligence agencies.
According to Director General of Police KS Balasubramanian, the state commandoes have started combing operations along with the forest department officers based on the report of suspected Maoists infiltrating into the Kerala-Karnataka border areas.
“Strict alert has been issued in eight police stations on the border areas. Two platoons of the Kerala Thunderbolts (an elite group of commandos specially trained for tackling possible terror strikes in the state) despatched to Wayanad have begun search operations,” Balasubramanian told media persons on Thursday.
In their first major operations after being trained six months back, Thunderbolt is assisted by police personnel from eight police stations and members of the forest guards with knowledge of the forest terrain, he said.
Border areas of Kannur, Wayanad, Malappuram, Palakkad and Kasargod districts have come under the scanner of the commandos.
Maoists are supposed to have entered Thirunelli, Vellamunda, Thalappuzha, Pulpally and Meppadi areas in Wayanad district.
Armed men were also spotted by locals in Attappadi area of Palakkad district.
The presence of the extremist group came to light following their encounter with estate workers at Kanamvayal, 18 kilometres deep inside the Kerala-Karnataka forest in Kannur district.
According to the workers, the six-member armed gang threatened them with guns on Feb.1.
Simultaneously, central intelligence agency alerted state police about the presence of Maoists and their plan to attempt a major operation on the eve of the death anniversary of Naxalite leader Varghese and tribal activist Jogi who were killed in police action.
Kerala police on Thursday confirmed that the people who were spotted on the Kerala- Karnataka border in Mankundi, Kanamvayal were Maoists.
Four members of the team were identified as: Vikram Gouda, Jayanna and Sundari from Karnataka and the lone Malayalee is from Palakkad district.
The team members where identified after showing the pictures to the employees in Mankundi estate.
The suspected Maoist group is said to have 26 people.
A special team of armed police personnel began their combing operation in the forest areas near Cherupuzha, bordering Karnataka, on Tuesday following eyewitness accounts of the presence of armed Maoists.
A police team, led by Inspector General (IG) of Police (Kannur range) Jose George and District Police Chief Rahul R. Nair reached the area in the evening on Tuesday and carried out a combing operation.
The operation continued on Wednesday with the armed police personnel searching the forest area for five hours.
High alert in border areas The police in the districts of Kannur, Kasargod and Wayanad and their counterparts in the neighbouring state of Karnataka have been put on high alert following reports of threats of possible attacks on some of the police stations in the region by Maoist gangs.
The police stations in the vulnerable border forest regions of the state have been directed to keep round-the-clock vigil based on the intelligence reports.
Police forces are kept on high alert especially on Feb. 18 and 19, the death anniversary of Naxalite leader Varghese and tribal activist Jogi, who was killed in police firing in Muthanga in 2003.