Fresh Evidences In Andhra Pradesh 'Encounter' Killings Point To Cold Blooded Murder
09 April, 2015
Fresh evidences emerging about the twin encounter killings in Andhra Pradesh in which 25 people lost their lives point to a pre-meditated cold blooded murder by the police force.
A red sanders smuggler had told Vellore police that five of the dead had been taken away from a bus as it neared Chittoor on Sunday night.
"We were going to fetch red sanders but the five people who were found killed were in the bus with me and were spotted by the Andhra police as they sat in a group whereas I sat with a woman passenger," the smuggler has allegedly told the police. A senior officer said the smuggler had gone back home to his village and narrated the incident to the panchayat head, who took him to the police.
After the incident, the Andhra police should have ordered an inquiry by a judicial magistrate as required by Section 176 1(A) of the CrPC. Instead the bodies were dispatched to Tirupati for post-mortem without waiting for the judicial magistrate, which proves that there is an attempt to cover up.
Most of the dead were from the Vanniyar community that dominates the border belt and the rest are Gounders. They are not tribals but daily wage labourers who live on the foothills of Javvaadhu Hills in Tamil Nadu and venture into the hills to cut and collect firewood. Since they are used to the rough terrain, they are employed by the red sanders smugglers to fetch the trees from Andhra.
Tamil Nadu has announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh each for the families of the dead. The state is also planning to approach the National Human Rights Commission with the material collected by its police force that counters the Andhra police claim that they opened fire after coming under attack from around 100 smugglers, who targeted them with sickles and other sharp weapons.
"First, no one in the task force suffered any major injuries to justify such a response. More important, the two spots where the firings reportedly happened showed no signs of any struggle or battle. Instead, two of our intelligence officers who were at the spot within two hours after information reached us found the bodies lined up, with bags, water sachets and chappals in matching pairs lying next to them, which exposed that the whole thing was set up post-mortem," A Tamil Nadu officer said.
Had the task force opened fire on a mob, the men would have started to run helter-skelter and would have got shot in any part of the body, especially the back or the legs, the officer said. Instead, all the 20 had bullet wounds either on their chest or on the forehead or the face, suggesting they were shot at close quarters after being secured.
"Also, the wounds would have looked fresh if they had been shot between 5am and 6am on Tuesday. Instead they looked at least a day old and a couple of bodies also had burn marks on them, as if there had been an attempt to cremate them," another senior officer said.
An officer who had served in Vellore district and had nabbed a few red sanders smugglers with the contraband argued that the logs found next to the bodies were another giveaway.
"None of them was freshly cut and instead had rounded edges as if they had been retrieved from one of the godowns. Also they had the dried look and paint patches on them - probably to cover the case numbers painted on them after they had been seized on a previous occasion," the officer explained.
Red sanders is a protected wood with a global demand and is found almost exclusively in southern Andhra.
In the other encounter in which five under trials were shot dead by the police, Viquar Ahmed, one of the five undertrials gunned down by police in Telangana on Tuesday, had expressed an apprehension that the police may kill him, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Viquar had filed a petition in the trial court six months ago, expressing his apprehension that the police may kill him in a staged gunfight while bringing him from Warangal Central Jail to Hyderabad.
"He had complained that policemen are trying to attack him while transporting him and others from Warangal," said Abdul Azeem, who was representing Viquar and two others.
The defence counsel said Viquar's father had also submitted a petition to the chief justice of the high court and human rights commission stating that Viquar was facing threat to his life from the police.
On April 6, Viquar had requested the court to transfer him to a jail in Hyderabad. He had given this request in his hand writing and the court was to pronounce orders on it on April 7, the day when he and four others were killed.
The lawyer said the two cases against Viquar and his friends were in the final stage as only the statements of the investigating officers were to be recorded. "We were expecting judgment in a couple of months," he said.
Abdul Azeem dismissed the police claim that Viquar and four others were shot dead as they tried to snatch weapons from the accompanying policemen and flee.
He said all the undertrials were handcuffed and chained to the seats in the police vehicle and hence there was no question of their attempting to snatch weapons or escape.
Viquar and the four others were facing charges of involvement in various cases including killing of two policemen in Hyderabad. Police said he had formed a group called Tehreek Galba-e-Islam and was carrying out terrorist activities with his associates.
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