Kerala HC directs govt to preserve bodies of 2 Maoists killed in encounter
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to preserve bodies of two Maoists who were killed in an encounter in Palakkad forests last week after their relatives filed a petition challenging a lower court’s permission to cremate the bodies.
Four Maoists, including a self-styled leader Manivasagam, were killed in Palakkad forests on October 28 in an encounter with commandos of the Kerala Police. Out of four bodies two- Manivasagam and Karthi - were identified and two are yet to be identified. Relatives of Manivasagam and Karthi approached the court saying the police were in hurry to cremate the bodies after several allegations of fake encounter surfaced. The petitioners also said they were not given the copy of the post-mortem report and reiterated the charge that some of them were killed in custody.
A single bench of Justice K P Narayana Pisharody accepted their contention and directed the state government to keep bodies of Manivasagan and Karthi at the Thrissur Medical College mortuary until further orders.
There is some confusion over the identity of two others. The police had said the other two were Rema and Aravind but relatives failed to identify them.
Many political parties including the CPI, which is part of the ruling Left Front and rights activists have alleged that encounter was fake and some of the Maoists were captured alive and shot dead after being tortured. The state government has denied any extrajudicial killing.
“Tribals told us ailing Manivasagam was captured alive and shot dead the next day. The post-mortem report shows both his legs were fractured,” said CPI assistant secretary Prakash Babu who visited the encounter site last week. Congress MP from Palakkad V K Sreekandan had also visited the site ignoring the warning of police. He also said the police encounter theory had many loopholes. Some activists claimed that ailing Manivasagam had sent feelers to the police informing his intention to surrender.
After allegations of fake encounter, the police had released a video of the gunfight but that drew even more flak. Many including the CPI alleged that the video was shot a day after the encounter. Police said on the first day of the encounter three Maoists were killed (Oct 28) and the next day when they combing the area for any injured extremists they were ambushed and one more Maoist was killed in the exchange of fire. No policeman was injured in the two-day operation which the police claimed was due to “better planning and intelligence gathering”.
As the “fake encounter theory” continued to swirl, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated that police retaliated when they were ambushed by Maoists. “It is strange some parties are trying to protect Maoists. I don’t know the reason behind this new-found love. They are not innocent as claimed by them,” he said in the Assembly on Monday.
After the LDF government came to power in 2016, seven Maoists were killed in the state that year. Among them were two leaders Kuppu Devaraj and Ajita alias Kaveri who were killed in Nilambur. In 2019, another Maoist leader C P Jaleel was shot dead in Wayanad.