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Top Maoist trainer arrested by STF near Coimbatore

Deepak belongs to the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of CPI (Maoist)

The Special Task Force (STF) of the Tamil Nadu police arrested Deepak, aka Chandu, a senior Maoist leader who escaped from the Agali forests in Kerala’s Palakkad district following an encounter on October 28 and 29, from an area close to the Kerala border on Saturday.

Deepak, who belongs to the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) of the CPI (Maoist), was arrested by the STF team from Moolangangal, which is around 1 km from the Kerala border. Moolangangal is around 25 km from the Manjikkandi settlement near Agali where four Maoists — Manivasakam, Karthi, Aravind and Rema — were gunned down in an encounter by the Thunderbolt force, the Kerala police’s anti-naxal commando wing.

According to a statement issued by the police, an STF team spotted three strangers with arms and baggage in the jungle during a combing operation. On seeing the STF men, they left their baggage and ran. Deepak fell into a gorge and sustained injuries. He was in possession of a single barrel breech-loading gun, ammunition and some literature of the banned CPI (Maoist) outfit.

Sources in the know of developments said that Deepak, a native of Chhattisgarh, is a specialist in gun battles. After the arrest, he was brought to Coimbatore Medical College Hospital for a medical examination on Saturday evening. He had injuries for which he was given treatment.

The Kerala police had recently released a video, purportedly of Deepak, retrieved from digital devices found at the makeshift camp of the Maoists after the encounter, demonstrating his skills with an assault rifle in a forest.

It is said that Deepak was part of the Maoist team that opened fire at the police and officials present at the inquest proceedings of Karthi, Aravind and Rema on October 29. After the elimination of Kuppu Devaraj along with Ajitha aka Kaveri in the Nilambur forests in November 2016, the anti-naxal forces of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka received intelligence that senior leaders from the DKSZC might move to the southern States to impart training to young Maoists. Kuppu Devaraj was the leader of the Bhavani Dalam, part of the Western Ghats Zonal Committee of the CPI (Maoist).

Additional Director General of Police (STF) Sunil Kumar told The Hindu that Deepak’s arrest was a big catch for the force. Deepak is likely to be booked under various Sections of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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