news Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 05:30
In line with several media reports from the ground, including the one by TNM, a fact-finding team comprising of former a NHRC member, jurist, former government officials and activists has also discovered that the 20 men from Tamil Nadu who were killed in an encounter by the Andhra Pradesh police in Seshachalam forests were tortured and killed in cold blood. Satyabrata Pal, the former member of NHRC, reportedly told reporters in Vellore, “The 20 men were murdered in cold blood. They were tortured, their bodies burned and mutilated like how the ISIS is doing in the Middle East.” The fact-finding team spoke to members of the family, the medical superintendent of Tirupati GH and other officials. They will be sending the report to the AP government for their version and later submit the full report to the President, NHRC, and the Governments of India, AP and TN. Meanwhile, an FIR has been filed by the AP government on the Chitoor incident. A ‘murder’ case has been filed against ‘unknown’ STF personnel who were involved in the encounter. The FIR was filed based on a complaint by Munniammal, the wife of Sasikumar who was one among the 20 killed. Were victims taken to DIG Kanta Rao before being killed? Speaking to TNM, Henri Tiphagne, said that one of the three key eyewitnesses, Ilangovan, who deposed to the NHRC in Pondicherry yesterday, has said that he was taken to a compound at the foothills of Tirumala. Ilangovan, says Tiphagne, was among those abducted by the AP police for the encounter, but escaped custody before meeting the same fate as others. Tiphagne says that he description provided by Ilangovan matches the one of the camp office of DIG Kanta Rao, the head of the Special Task Force (Anti Red Sanders Smuggling). The fact finding team visited the camp office and spoke to Rao, who said he has been restrained from talking to anyone about the case by the Hyderabad High Court. The fact finding team was told by the Medical Superintendent of Tirupati GH that nine members of the STF were admitted on the day of the encounter for injuries caused by stones and sticks. “If it was a genuine combing operation, then why were there no forest officials in the injured?” asks Tiphagne, “Usually all combing operations are done by a joint team of STF and forest officials.” The fact-finding team however was not allowed access to the encounter site. Tiphagne says that the STF held them back from entering the site in spite of waiting there for hours. Earlier, the AP police had filed a case of trespassing against 12 other activists who had gained access to the site after the encounter. Srinivasulu, District Forest Officer, told TNM, “The cases on the 12 people have been booked under AP Forest Act of 1967, Section 20(1)(c) for entering a protected area without the required permission." Section 20 of the forest act deals with 'penalties for trespass or damage in reserved forest and prohibited in such forest’. Activists say that the case is a part of an ongoing effort by the AP police to intimidate them.