Andhra Pradesh Encounter
news Friday, April 10, 2015 - 05:30
  The Andhra Pradesh police chief J V Ramudu has described the shooting of 20 labourers in the Seshachalam forests on April 7 in a statement to the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Twenty labourers from Tamil Nadu were allegedly cutting down red sanders trees in the Seshachalam forests near Tirupati when they were accosted by the Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force of the Andhra Pradesh police.  Read: AP encounter: One of them was a 21-year-old Economics student, and part time plumber The families of the deceased allege that at least seven of the labourers were killed in cold blood after being picked up the previous day by the Andhra Pradesh police. Politicians and rights activists have also lent their support to these claims, alleging that the details of the scene of the crime suggested a “stage managed encounter”. Read: Rising tension in TN villages, family members deny victims were wood-cutters Ramudu deposed before the High Court on Friday and told the court that the police had identified themselves as the police, but the alleged smugglers attacked them, forcing the police to open fire. In his statement, of which The News Minute has a copy, Ramudu said that the forest department officials and the police found “hundreds number of persons speaking Tamil language at the up hillock uttered as Vettutudi Konnudi” area of the Seshachalam forests.  Ramudu said that the police had identified themselves at this point: “On that G Harinath Babu, DSP, Task Force party has deposed his identity cried loudly that they are police party.”  However, the DGP said that despite this, there was no response from the other side and the alleged smugglers who had already trespassed into the prohibitory zone of the forest area were armed with deadly weapons like axes, sickles and stones.  Read: Activists make stunning claim: One escaped, 7 killed in encounter were picked up by AP police earlier “They hurled big stones, arrows, axes, towards the combing task force party,” he said, adding that in order to stop the smugglers, the task force shot three rounds into the air. But when they continued their “virulent hurting” the police personnel sustained injuries, following which, on the orders of the officer in charge, they opened fire towards the group “in the right of private defence and to safeguard their lives”.  Ramudu also says that the suspects stopped pelting stones at the task force when the latter fired at them. Nine died on the spot, and remaining ran away, he told the court. The case has generated much curiosity and on occasion, it has become a fight between the people on either side of the border, with a section of Tamilians alleging that people of their state were being targeted, and Telugu-speaking people expressing anger at the resources of their state being looted.