Vythiri shootout: Resort employees on police radar

C P Jaleel
C.P.Jaleel, an alleged Maoist activist, was killed near a resort in Vythiri, Wayanad district.

Kalpetta: The Crime Branch team investigating last week's police shootout at a private resort near here in Wayanad district has begun its quest to unravel why one of the employees

of the resort, who was sent out by the extremists to withdraw cash from a nearby ATM, did not inform the police of the development.

Initial reports had suggested that it was the resort staff who alerted the police about the presence of the extremist group. However, later it was revealed that the security forces reached the area after being tipped off by a network of police informants who were deployed to keep a tab on Maoists who had been frequenting the resort located on the forest fringes of late.

The special team is also checking whether some of the resort staff, who are suspected to be acquaintances of the extremists, had made a deliberate attempt to cover up the incident, probably anticipating that a police action would seriously affect the prospects of tourism in the area.

Also, they might have opted to not inform us of the development fearing a backlash from the Maoists, an official said.

According to investigators, the members of the radical outfit had threatened the resort employees with dire consequences if they colluded with their ‘enemies’ and forced them to give a written assurance that an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh would be paid to them annually as protection money.

There were indications that some of the employees, during the process of witness statements recording by the police, told that the extremists had never visited the resort before.

The gunfight, which lasted several hours, culminated in the killing of CP Jaleel, a member of the Maoist group. It all began after they arrived at the forest resort around 7.30 pm and demanded cash and other provisions. Security forces, led by the commandos of Thunderbolt, an elite unit of the Kerala police, were on full alert following an intelligence report on the movement of Maoists in the area.

Forum seeks judicial probe

Meanwhile, terming the police action a planned encounter, the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) on Monday demanded a judicial probe into the firing.

The forum stated that the incident bore an uncanny resemblance to the killing of Naxalite leader A Varghese about five decades ago in Thirunelly as well Maoists Kuppu Devaraj and Ajitha in the Nilambur forests in 2017.

“We have suspicions that the visit of Kannur range IG Balaram Kumar Upadhyay to the resort a few days before the incident was to lay the groundwork for the encounter.

It is hard to digest that not a single policeman got injured in the gunfight,” said NCHRO state executive member A Vasu.

Forum’s state president Vilayodi Sivankutty, and national coordinator Reni Ayline also attended the press conference.