Police strengthen efforts to woo Maoists

Overtures being sent for surrender of remaining cadres

The State police have intensified their efforts to woo Maoists hiding in the jungles of the Western Ghats to surrender, especially in the wake of the setbacks and the attrition being faced by the Kabani, Nadugani, Siruvani and Bhavani units of the banned outfit.

The surrender of Lijesh aka Ramu in Wayanad last week has increased the hopes of the police about more surrenders in future. The way the police dealt with Ramu by offering him safety and rehabilitation under the surrender-cum-rehabilitation scheme of 2018 is also expected to send positive signals to the remaining Maoists.

Even as the Government said that the trial of the surrendered Maoists would be in accordance with the crimes they committed, the police indicated that maximum leniency would be given. “We want to dispel the fears and the unfounded concerns that exist within them (Maoists) about the surrender policy. It will be transparent,” said a senior police officer who had been instrumental in drafting the surrender package.

The behavior of Maoists, especially in recent months, has been viewed as a sign of an increasing despondency among the cadres. Small groups came to two tribal hamlets off Munderi in the Nilambur forest in the last two weeks. Once they stayed in the colony overnight. When the police learned about the first visit two days later, in spite of having intelligence sources among the tribespeople, the police were clueless about the second visit that took place on Wednesday night at Iruttukuthy hamlet.

Sources close to the police and Maoists indicated that the cadres were struggling for survival. They have reportedly stopped conducting classes for the tribespeople. The last time they came to the colony was for provision. The number of Maoist cadres has almost halved in the last 10 years, and many among them are learned to have been desperate for surrender.

It was in 2011-12 that the Maoist movement began to emerge once again in Kerala with Wayanad-Nilambur forests as its base. It was seen as the third phase of the extremist Naxal movement. An attempt to disrupt a train at Nilambur 10 years ago was considered the outfit’s first move, and leaders such as Sasidharan and Roopesh are still facing trial for that.

In 2014, Sinoj was killed in a blast and J.M. Krishna in an elephant attack. Roopesh, Shaina, Anoop, Kannan, Murali Kunnampalli and Ismail were held from different places in 2015. In the first encounter in 2016, Kuppu Devarajan and Ajitha were killed in Nilambur forest. Lata was killed by an elephant in 2018.

The killing of Jaleel and Velmurugan took place in the following years. Four Maoists, including senior leader Manivasakam, were killed in Attappady in 2019. At the same time, several urban cadres of the movement, including Rajeev, Rajan Chittilappally, Dinesh, Murali Murali Kannampalli, Danish, Kalidasan, Usman, Alan Shuhaib and Thaha Fazal, were arrested.

With an ebbing morale in the shrinking cadre, Maoists are increasingly being wooed to surrender. The police are trying to send out overtures that their safe rehabilitation would be ensured.

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