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‘Comrade Hem’ was just a scribe,say friends

Hemchandra Pandey,who was killed in Andhra Pradesh’s Adilabad district along with CPI (Maoist) spokesperson ‘Azad’ Cherukuri Rajkumar...

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
July 8, 2010 1:59:43 am

Hemchandra Pandey,who was killed in Andhra Pradesh’s Adilabad district along with CPI (Maoist) spokesperson ‘Azad’ Cherukuri Rajkumar on July 2,was cremated at Delhi’s Nigambodh Ghat on Wednesday afternoon.

The body of the officer with the Corporate Communications team of the Delhi-based DARCL Logistics,who the Maoists claimed was an important functionary of the outfit,was flown in from Hyderabad around 11.30 on Tuesday night.

Pandey’s friends from his AISA (All India Students’ Association) days in PG College,Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand) and mates from the diploma in journalism class he attended were at the 7,Jantar Mantar Road office of Swami Agnivesh by then,armed with photocopies of various opinion pieces written by Pandey to show that he was a journalist out looking for a story.

They were seen trying to convince the clutch of journalists present that Hemendra Pandey — the byline that he reportedly used — was the same Hemchandra Pandey.

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At a protest meeting held at Swami Agnivesh’s office on Wednesday morning,the mood was defiant. “There cannot be one treatment for someone who is a freelancer and another who is working for a big-name newspaper… If they want to fire a bullet and stop us,then they should shoot the Secretary General of the Press Club of India first,” said Pushpendra Kulshrestha .

“If the Maoists invite us,we will meet them and publish interviews. We will tell the people. Let the people decide who is wrong,and who is right,” said Jalal from the Andhra Pradesh Electronic Journalists’ Union. Various AP journalists’ unions had helped airlift the body to Delhi.

Renowned writer Arundhati Roy said: “It doesn’t matter whether he was a Maoist or not,or whether he was a journalist or not. This distracts the debate. The fact is,we need an inquiry into what happened,when did it happen,where were they picked up,where were they killed,and why were they killed,” she said.

Trade union leaders from Left-leaning groups,students and faculty of JNU and DU,and rights activists joined family for the protest meeting and cremation. Slogans of “Comrade Hem Amar Hai” rent the air as the body was taken out for cremation.

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