The Hyderabad High Court on Monday, expressed concern over the encounter at the Andhra-Odisha border and directed the Andhra police to inform the court if wanted Maoist leader Ramakrishna alias RK, was in police custody or not.
Hearing a Habeas Corpus plea by RK's wife, who alleged that the state had detained her husband and planned to kill him, the HC reportedly asserted that the state was duty-bound to protect the lives of citizens.
Last week, 24 Maoists, including eight women, were killed by security forces in a gunbattle which also left a Greyhounds commando dead, in the Bejjangi forest in Odisha's Malkangiri district on Monday.
The next day saw the death toll going up to 28 after four more bodies were recovered in the district. Two more Maoists belonging to the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) were killed later in a shootout, taking the toll to 30.
Top Maoist cadre Ramakrishna alias RK is reported to have managed to escape during the fighting.
However, many have claimed that he is in police custody, as none of the cadres have heard from him since the encounter.
According to reports, when the bench sought to know the status from AP, the state's counsel told the court that RK was not in the police custody and added that the shootout had taken place outside AP's territory.
However, the petitioner's counsel alleged that the police may have apprehended the Maoists on the first day itself, and was killing them in a phased manner to claim that each killing was a separate encounter at different places.
"Tell us by Thursday whether he is with you or not. State is expected to act in a lawful manner. Human life is valuable. We are not concerned whether he is a Maoist or any other person. We value everybody's life. This is the philosophy of the state. State has to be accountable for the lives of its people. Even Maoists are human beings. We want to know where he (RK) is now. We are not suspecting the state. Let us hope they will act responsibly. We only hope no harm will come to RK's life. You file your counter by Thursday," the Times of India quoted the bench as saying.
Meanwhile, many activists gathered in Hyderabad on Monday and alleged that Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu was indulging in anti-naxalite activities so that he could help promote bauxite mining in the Andhra-Orissa Border.
In a separate development, the state cabinet decided to beef up Naidu's security apparatus after recent threats from the CPI (Maoist), who promised to take ‚Äúrevenge‚ÄĚ against Naidu and his son Lokesh.