A suspected Maoist leader was killed during an encounter with police late on Wednesday outside a resort at Vythiri in Wayanad district. The deceased is said to be group leader CP Jaleel.
Hours-long gunfire between the police and the group of Maoists took place outside the resort where the group had come for food and provisions by Wednesday evening. Two persons were said to have been injured and hunt by the special Thunderbolt force of the police for the group members is on.
According to police, it was the Maoists who opened fire late on Wednesday night and the gunfire ensued till the wee hours of Thursday. They are believed to have come to the resort at Lakidi in Vythiri in a group of four and demanded food for 10 persons, besides money and provisions from the resort. However, a section of the staff tipped the police and the Thunderbolt squad landed there immediately.
This surprised the group who resorted to gunfire, forcing the police to shoot back. The firing started around 8 pm and more commandos were rushed in. Security around the area was beefed up. Inspector-General Balram Upadhyaya said none of the police were injured.
He added that no one was yet taken into custody and details of deceased were being collected. Inquest had begun under the supervision of sub-collector NS Umesh. Details of the two persons said to have been injured were yet to be known. They body of Jaleel was expected to be brought to Kozhikode for post mortem.
Tension prevailed in the area and it is not the first time that the Maoists have come out to the open in Wayanad and demanded food and provisions. Earlier, they were said to have identified secluded houses where they used to go in small groups and make similar demands.
Police have cordoned off the area and the resort has been shut down for the public. Police said the guests and staff of the resort were shifted to a safe locality and security was provided to other resorts in the area.
Traffic, blocked for a few hours along the NH 766 connecting Kozhikode with Mysuru, was restored on Thursday morning.
A high-level meeting of police and district officials has been convened by the Kannur Range IG. Top officials of northern districts like Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram have been summoned.
Police said locals claim that there has been the presence of Maoists in Sugandhagiri and Pettukunnu reserves and they used to frequent places like Thamarasseri and Thiruvambadi in Wayanad.
The last encounter was in Nilambur in 2016 where two leaders Kuppu Devaraj and Ajitha were killed, leading to widespread protests by human rights activists.