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Police on alert as Rahul heads to Wayanad

Step up anti-Maoist operations in the Lok Sabha constituency

The Kerala Police have strengthened their anti-Maoist operations in the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency which has shot into national prominence with the candidacy of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

They believe that Maoists, who have an incipient but potent presence in the mostly forested Parliament segment, may use Mr. Gandhi’s candidature as a window of opportunity to garner outsize propaganda value for their campaign to stir up pessimism against the country’s electoral process.

Senior officers said the armed irregulars posed a threat to VIP security and they had appeared at tribal settlements in Wayanad to distribute pamphlets denouncing the elections recently.

Mr. Gandhi is scheduled to arrive in Wayanad on April 4 to file his nomination.

Quick reaction teams

The police have formed quick reaction teams comprising elite Thunderbolt commandos and trained anti-Naxalite forces in all police stations in Wayanad.

They have fortified four police stations, Kondanadu, Thalapura, Thirunelli and Vellamunda, with sand-bagged machine gun posts and watchtowers as part of their aggressive anti-Maoist drive.

They have also singled out sensitive polling booths vulnerable to Maoist disruption using a predicability calculus based on past Naxalite activity. Inspecto General of Police, Kannur Range, M. R. Ajith Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Operations, Debesh Kumar Behera, District Police Chief, Wayanad, R. Karuppu Swamy and ASP, Wayanad, Vaibhav Saxena were supervising the anti-Maoist operations.

Two Dalams

Investigators said two Naxalite Dalams, presumably Nadukani and Kabani, were active in Wayanad. They numbered around 20 and carried weapons ranging from assault rifles to country-made muzzle-loaders. The police said their inventory of arms could also include workshop-grade landmines and crude bombs.

They have already recruited a tribal woman, Jisha, to their cause.

The police have declared her a fugitive from the law. Jisha’s “joining” of the Maoist ranks indicated that the extremists had progressed from mere propaganda to active recruitment to create a militia to counter the State, a senior officer said.

Appearances

Since November, Maoists have made at least 22 appearances in Wayanad district.

The police had discerned a pattern in their seemingly out-of-the-blue appearances, which occurred between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and at locales abutting dense forests.

One such presence at a jungle resort in Vythiri had resulted in a shoot-out with the police in which a suspected Maoist was killed on March 7.

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