Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have deployed forces in forests contiguous with Kerala in a bid to apprehend any fleeing Maoists
The number of alleged Maoists shot dead by Kerala police commandos in Agali forests in Palakkad mounted to four, on Tuesday.
Top police officials told The Hindu that they had braced themselves for more causalities as Thunderbolt commandos continued to scour the area for the remaining members of the group of “armed Maoist irregulars” they had battled in Manjankandi forests on Monday.
They said Thunderbolts had engaged the armed group at least twice on Tuesday.
The combatants had discovered the latest body of a “left-wing extremist” in the dense undergrowth in Manjankandi area on Tuesday as they moved to cut off the remaining members of the armed group from fleeing the Agali forests.
The police tentatively identified the body as that of Manivasakam, possibly the nom de guerre of the activist who headed the Kabani Dalam of the Western Ghats Zonal Committee of the proscribed Communist Party of India (Maoist) in Kerala.
They provisionally identified those killed in Monday’s operation as Rema, Suresh and Karthi. The police believe that the dead are natives of Tamil Nadu.
Investigators said they were unsure whether the Manivasakam had died in the gun battle between Thunderbolts and Maoists on Tuesday.
The police also recovered several arms from the crime scene. They included one AK-47 assault rifle retrieved from the spot where Manivasakam lay dead.
They also recovered two 0.303 lee Enfield type bolt action rifles of 1940s vintage, three country-made but potent rifled muskets and a 12 gauge shotgun. The police also recovered 7.62 mm ammunition used in Self Loading Rifles from the area where the firefight occurred.
Meanwhile, a team of officials led by the Sub Collector, Ottappalam, had recovered the bodies of the slain Maoists from Agali forests and sent them for post-mortem examination to the Government Medical College Hospital, Thrissur.
The police said a woman had staked a claim for the bodies and they were verifying her background and relation to the deceased persons.
Earlier, investigators from Agali police station, local revenue officials and forensic experts had accompanied the subdivisional executive magistrate to help him prepare an inquest report on the encounter killings.
The densely forested locale is at least a 3 km trek from the nearest road and could take several hours to reach. The team had set off from Agali under heavily armed police escort.