By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The recovery of live bullets, suspected to have been made in Pakistan and China, has touched off a lively debate in the State.
The bullets were found at a roadside in Kulathupuzha village in Kollam district, which has hogged the headlines for the wrong reasons.
The investigation into the sensational recovery has been entrusted to the anti-terrorist squad of the Kerala Police, said DGP, Loknath Behera.
The Police seem to have got some preliminary leads in the preliminary probe. It has rightly informed central agencies of the incident because the bullets are suspected to be made in foreign countries. The assistance of police in other states has also been sought.
According to intelligence sources, of the 14 bullets, two were made in China, while the rest have the imprint of POF – Pakistan Ordinance Factory. These were of 1972, 1975 and 1982 make. All rounds, it is claimed, are of 7.62mm and can be used in long-range firearms. The bullets seem to have been dropped deliberately or left by mistake.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has also initiated a probe into the incident, which has caused grave concern.
Speculation is rife in the aftermath of the incident. Were they dropped by Pakistani terrorists who used it? Or is it the handiwork of Sri Lankan militants? Doubts about Lankan militants have arisen because Kulathupuzha has a few settlements of Lankan refugees. The Sri Lankan angle needs to be probed thoroughly as Pakistani terrorists normally use Chinese weapons.
Another school of thought suspects the hands of Maoists behind the incident. After all, Maoists are found to be active in the State; their presence has been felt in many parts of the State: In Wayanad, in Nilambur forests and in Attappadi in Palakkad district. Incidentally, four Maoists were gunned down in Nilambur a few months ago.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has had to face flak over the killing of Maoists even from allies like the CPI.
Extremists groups were suspected to be active even in the agitations in the state held in protest against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The Chief Minister himself made a statement in the Assembly accusing extremist organisations like SDPI and Popular Front of infiltrating the anti-CAA agitations to give it a bad name.
The incident, understandably, has heightened anxieties across the State. The LDF Government needs to take a serious view of the finding of live bullets as it has security implications not only at the state level but at the national level as well. Kerala simply cannot afford to be dubbed as a haven of extremists as has been alleged by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP leaders). The State has been well and truly forewarned. And to be forewarned is to be forearmed. (IPA Service)