news Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 05:30
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday decided to send its team for an on-the-spot investigation into the killing of 20 woodcutters by police in Andhra Pradesh. The commission took the decision after hearing the submissions made by the civil society and the state government during a hearing on the second day of its camp sitting here. The NHRC directed that mobile numbers of all the officials involved in the police action and medico-legal reports of the police personnel injured in the action should be submitted. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana police submitted reports on the killings of 20 woodcutters and five undertrial prisoners, respectively, to the NHRC. Police officers of the two states appeared before the NHRC during the hearing on the two incidents that took place on April 7. They submitted details of the gun battles and the subsequent action taken by police. The NHRC is conducting a hearing on the two incidents following allegations by the families of the victims and human rights groups that police murdered them in cold blood. Andhra Pradesh Police, in its report, explained the circumstances which led to the killing of 20 woodcutters in Seshachalam forests in Chittoor district. Police claimed that the woodcutters hailing from Tamil Nadu were working for smugglers of red sanders and they attacked policemen, forcing them to open fire in self defence. The NHRC members wanted to know why a judicial probe was not ordered. They were informed that the case was being heard by the Hyderabad High Court. Telangana Police submitted a report about the April 7 incident near Aler in Nalgonda district. Police said five undertrial prisoners, who were being brought to Hyderabad from Warangal Central Jail, tried to snatch weapons and escape. They claimed that all the five were killed in an 'exchange of fire'. The Telangana government has already ordered a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT). Rights groups, however, are seeking an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or by a sitting judge of the high court. The widow of Mohammed Haneef, one of the slain undertrials, on Wednesday met NHRC chairman K.G. Balakrishnan. She disputed the police claim that the undertrials tried to snatch weapons and said they were all handcuffed and chained to their seats in the police vehicle. With IANS
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