An Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) constable was killed in the exchange of fire between the police and Naxals at Manjila village of Belthangady Taluk at 11:20 pm on Saturday. The incident bears testimony to the active presence of Maoists in Malnad region. Though some villages in Dakshina Kannada were marked as Naxal-infested, there was no major incident of exchange of fire between the police and Naxals. The incident at Manjila village is the first such in the district.
The deceased constable has been identified as Mahadeva S. Mane, attached to the KSRP 9th batallion based at Kudlu in Bengaluru. Mane hailed from Chadchad of Bijapur district. According to the FIR filed at the Belthangady police station by ANF Constable H.C. Ramesh, the ANF team, comprising 14 members and led by DAR SI C.D. Gurupada, was on a combing operation on Saturday evening based on information that Maoists would visit Manjila village, and had prepared to ambush them.
“Around 11.20 pm on Saturday night, about 10-15 Maoists with powerful torchlights arrived at the spot. When the ANF team asked them to surrender, the Naxals opened fire during which constable Mane sustained serious injuries and died. The police too retaliated”, the FIR noted. The Naxals, who were about 15 in number, were carrying torchlights. In the light, our ANF team could identify Vikram Gowda and others. Others too will be identified”, IGP (Western Range) Alok Mohan told Deccan Chronicle. He said the ANF team had heard the scream of a woman from the Naxals’ side and suspected that some of them must have been injured in the exchange of fire.
“Extra platoons of Armed Reserve police have been deployed for combing. Combing operation has been started in all the four Naxal-infested districts”, DG&IGP Neelam Achyuta Rao, who visited Belthangady to pay tribute to the deceased constable, said. “It is true that there was a feeling that the number of Naxals was decreasing. But now, during investigations, we will know their numbers”, he said. The FIR has named Naxal leader Vikram Gowda, Sundari, Kirthi and Vijaya and others as the accused.