Kerala Police Kill Four Maoists In Encounters, Opposition Says Fake Encounter
Image Credits: Haroon Kovanoor

Kerala Police Kill Four Maoists In Encounters, Opposition Says 'Fake Encounter'

The Kerala Police arrested 14 people, citing ‘procession without permission’. The arrested people were part of a protest carried out by citizens on Tuesday (29 October 2019), against the encounter killing of four Maoists by the Kerala Thunderbolts. The group consisting of 20-25 activists were holding the protest at the Mananchira Square in Calicut district.

“Within 5 minutes of the procession, the police came in buses and arrested all the 14 people. When the police surrounded them(the protesters), they sat down and raised slogans,” said Gopal Menon, a human rights activist and independent filmmaker, while speaking to The Logical Indian. They were later released after 2 hours under bail.

While Menon was scheduled to speak at the protest, he arrived late, due to which he was not arrested. There were several other protests at the same place, including that by the BJP, Merchants Association and Trade Union against various issues, and yet the protest of the group was singularly targeted, says Menon. This is the government “trying to muzzle the voice of dissent in Kerala.”

Kerala Maoist encounter killings
Activists hold protest against the Maoist encounter killings in Calicut

On Monday, the Kerala Thunderbolts, the command force of Kerala Police, had gunned down three Maoists – Karthik, Arvind, and Rama – in the Agali forests of Attapadi Hills in Palakkad. According to a report by The Hindu, the police claimed that the Maoists attacked first, post which they retaliated. On Tuesday, while inspecting the encounter area, yet another Maoist, Manivasakam, was killed by the Thunderbolts.

Meanwhile, in a press conference in Thiruvanthapuram, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala called out the killings as ‘fake encounter.’ Talking to the media, he said that 6 Maoists have been killed since the CPI(M) government came to power in 2016.

Claiming that there have not been any fake encounters when he was the state Home Minister, Chennithala added, “We are against the Maoist ideologies; we have different opinions. But, we don’t support murdering them in a fake encounter…Take them in custody and bring them to justice; that’s what a democratic govt should do.”

In latest developments, various Adivasi leaders have also come forward in support of the killed Maoists. According to Shivani, an Adivasi leader, the Maoists were in discussion with the previous ASP, Navneeth Sharma, for options of surrender. The police had offered them protection and rehabilitation, provided that they agreed to surrender. Some of the Maoists, including Manivasakam, had health issues, which was also why they were ready to comply. And yet, they were gunned down by the police, Shivani told Media One.

Shivani added that the Maoist group had in no ways troubled the tribals, which makes it unbelievable that they had fired at the thunderbolts. “They were cooking and eating when the Thunderbolts surrounded them, they could not even get to their weapons. It was Thunderbolts who attacked them.” Sreemathi, the wife of Arvind, also had a six-month-old baby in her hand, Shivani added.

“The police and the thunderbolt should take them(the Maoists) into custody, and not take the law in their hands and gun down the Maoists. That’s human rights violation,” said Murugan, Adivasi Action Council Leader, to Media One.

This is not the first time that the CPI(M) government has been criticized for their action against Maoists. On November 26, 2016, Kuppu Devaraj and Ajitha were gunned down by Thunderbolts in Nilambur in Malappuram district. On March 6, 2019, C P Jaleel was gunned down in Vythiri, Wayanad district. All three killings were widely criticized and alleged to be fake encounters. “It’s definitely a dark phase in the history of Kerala’s democracy,” says Menon.

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Editor : Reethu Ravi

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