Police fired in self-defence: Vijayan on Maoist encounter

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Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 5 (PTI) Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the Kerala government never had any intention to kill anyone after the CPI on Thursday condemned the killing of a suspected Maoist in Wayanad district two days ago.

The state council of the Communist Party of India, a major ally of the ruling Left Front government in Kerala, sought for a magisterial probe into the alleged encounter.

Velmurugan, a 33-year-old Tamil Nadu native from Theni district, was killed in the alleged encounter between the Kerala Police and a gang of Left extremists in a shootout deep inside the forests of Wayanad early on Tuesday.

'A civilised society cannot accept the killing of a person in the name of Maoist encounter,' the CPI said in a statement. 'The party does not accept the activities of the Maoists but cannot also accept that such persons are gunned down.' 'The Maoists lack a foothold in the state because it lacks the support of the civil society. The encounters with the Thunderbolt in the forest is highly condemnable,' it added.

Vijayan, however, said the matter related to the encounter would be probed as part of the investigation and, as per the preliminary report, the Thunderbolt team -- an elite commando force of state police specialised in combating extremists -- fired in 'self-defence'.

The chief minister said Velmurugan was already booked under many cases, including one registered in Odisha for allegedly attacking and looting a police station there when he was 17 years old.

'There is another case of weapons training registered in Theni district, Tamil Nadu,' Vijayan said, adding that there was a non-bailable warrant against Velmurugan and he was absconding since being out on bail.

'The Tamil Nadu government had declared a prize money of Rs 2 lakh for capturing him. The state government never had any intention to kill anyone and the preliminary report says the police fired in self-defence. The rest of the matters will be investigated,' Vijayan said.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had earlier condemned the killing and sought an independent probe into the matter.

Last year in October, four Maoists were killed in an exchange of fire during a two-day police combing operation in Palakkad district. In March that year, a Maoist leader was shot dead at a resort near Vythiri in Wayanad.

Kuppuswamy Devaraj, 65, and Ajitha, 45, were killed in an alleged encounter with police in Nilambur forests in November 2016. PTI RRT HMB