With more and more questions being raised on the April 7 killing of 20 people in a Tirupati forest by the red sanders special task force (STF), the Andhra Pradesh government informed the High Court at Hyderabad Wednesday that a murder case had been filed against “unknown” STF personnel involved in the “encounter”. red sanders encounter
Additional Advocate General Dammalapati Srinivas informed a division bench comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta and Justice P V Sanjay Kumar that an FIR was filed on a complaint from Muniammal, the widow of a Tamil Nadu woodcutter, at the Chandragiri police station.
In her complaint, Muniammal said her husband Sashi and others were daily wage labourers who were going to find work when Andhra Pradesh policemen took them away and shot them dead, that it was not an encounter as police claimed. The Indian Express had first reported how Andhra Pradesh policemen spared Sekhar, one of the men from Vettagiripalayam, as he was seated next to a woman on a bus from Tiruttani to Renigunta while seven others from his village were pulled out and taken to custody, hours before the “encounter”. Sekhar told villagers and his relatives that he was spared because police thought he was the husband of the woman next to him.
The killings led to an uproar in Tamil Nadu where political parties condemned the “brutal” police action and said 12 of the dead were labourers from their state. Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam wrote to Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu, seeking a “credible and speedy inquiry” into the incident.
The FIR was registered under IPC sections of murder (302) and kidnapping (364) against unknown personnel of the STF. The High Court was also told that the government was setting up a special investigation team (SIT) to conduct an inquiry.
Taking suo motu cognisance of Muniammal’s complaint, the High Court had earlier made her a petitioner in the case filed by Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) which had alleged that it was a case of “murder” and the victims were poor labourers from Tamil Nadu. Muniammal moved an application Wednesday through her counsel seeking directions to the Andhra Pradesh government to once again conduct post-mortem examination of the bodies of her husband and five others by an expert medical team and videograph the entire process.
The six bodies are preserved in a government hospital in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu. Referring to this, the High Court directed the AAG to file before it by Thursday the post-mortem report and inquest report conducted earlier on the bodies. The matter was subsequently posted for Thursday.
(With PTI inputs)