Maoists have been sighted in the forest near Kukke Subrahmanya in Sullia Taluk since last Thursday, indicating that the reds are expanding their base in the district. They are now a hop, skip and jump away from Kodagu district, whose borders start near Sullia.
Anti-Naxal Force personnel exchanged fire with the Naxalites near Palligadde village, around 7 km from Kukke Subrahmanya. No casualties were reported from both sides.
ANF IGP Alok Kumar confirmed that five to six Maoists fired on the ANF team. “They attacked our men from a distance of around 5000 metres. The ANF team too returned fire and hurled grenades. It is a thick forest and we have not received any report of casualties from the other side. No blood was found in the area of the encounter and there might not be any injury on the Maoist side,” he said.
On Monday, a bigger team of around 15 members from the ANF went on the combing operation.
The Maoists have been expanding their base rapidly. Till last year, they were in Belthangady taluk. Last year, they extended their influence till Puttur. But this year, they have arrived in Sullia taluk. Palligadde, where the Maoists were sighted, is located between Sakleshpur and Madikeri. The Maoists can easily move to either of the two towns through thick forests without being noticed by the people or the police.
Villagers said a group of five to six Maoists visited a few houses for food and also sought permission to recharge their laptops on Thursday and Friday. Maoists also warned the villagers against informing the police about their presence near the village.
The police said that this unit of the Maoists is headed by Vikram Gowda and Sundari and they speak fluent Tulu, Kannada and Tamil.
“The Maoists asked the villagers to protest against the expansion of Pushpagiri sanctuary. They need an issue to instigate the locals, and here they have chosen the Pushpagiri expansion issue, which has been worrying the locals,” the sources said.