A shocking revelation threatens to blow a hole into the Andhra Pradesh police version on the Chittoor 'encounter' that claimed 20 lives.
A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com reports.
A shocking revelation has emerged about the strange events in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh on April 7 in which 20 men -- who the AP police allege were 'red sander smugglers' -- were killed.
Kranti Chaitanya, a member of the non-government organisation Civil Liberties Committee that operates in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, told Rediff.com that some of those killed in the 'encounter' with the Andhra Pradesh Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force in the Seshachalam forest area were in fact individuals randomly picked up from a bus headed for Tirupati.
"On April 6, eight workers from Thirutani in Tamil Nadu boarded a bus to Tirupati. Soon after the bus crossed the Andhra Pradesh border, between 6 and 6.30 pm, the police boarded it and arrested 7 people," Chaitanya said.
"One worker was sitting besides a lady. The police did not arrest him as they thought they were a couple. He got scared, went back to his village and informed people about the arrests."
Within 12 hours of their arrest, the workers's bodies were discovered among the 20 bodies left behind after the 'encounter.'
"The victims' family members came here (Chittoor) to identify the bodies," adds Chaitanya. "I came to know these details from them."
The seven deceased workers have been identified as Moorthy, Muniaswamy, Mahindran, Palani, Perumal, Sashi Kumar and Murugan.
"I cannot reveal the name of the eighth man who escaped," says Chaitanya. "At an appropriate time, we will produce him in an appropriate forum."
The Civil Liberties Committee has petitioned the Andhra Pradesh high court about the 'encounter.'
"The 20 men killed were all unarmed," V Raghunath, a high court advocate and CLC joint secretary, told Rediff.com
"Our activists in Tirupati went to the mortuary and saw the dead bodies. They told me that all the bullet injuries are above chest level. The men were fired upon from very close range. This proves that they (the Andhra Pradesh Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force) did not fire in self-defence; the motive was to kill them."
"We have approached the high court which said that a case of unnatural death should be registered," added Raghunath. "The court also said that forensic experts should conduct the post-mortem and that the same should be videographed. (Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police) DGP J V Ramudu has been asked to reply in two days when the case will come up for hearing."
Image: Police personnel after the 'encounter' with 'smugglers' in the Seshachalam forest in Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor district on Tuesday, April 7. Photograph: PTI Photo